Park board schedules workshops for park planning

The Park Board has scheduled two workshops that will focus on developing a comprehensive plan for the city’s park system.
Both sessions will be on Friday nights, beginning at 7 p.m. on March 13 and March 27.
The workshops were suggested after City Administrator Rick Childers told the board to slow down with spending and develop a plan.
Since December, the board has spent more than $88,000 on park projects, according to the minutes from those meetings.
The board has received about $30,000 from a sales tax that was passed last year. The board borrowed $225,000 against the tax to start projects early.
Included in the $88,000 is about $14,700 in spending Monday night. The board approved spending $11,230 on dugouts and bleachers for baseball, T-ball fields and the city’s new tennis courts. The board also approved spending $3,318 for a device that has multiple uses including dragging ballfields, parking lots and walking trails.
Board member Mark Sowder then presented the board with a list of projects that need to be completed at West Armour Park. The discussion then went into contemplating spending an additional $10,000 for the purchase of playground equipment for the parks.
Childers at that point urged the board to come up with a comprehensive plan for the park system.
“You’re getting to the point where it would really benefit you to have an overall plan for the development of the parks,” he said.
Childers said last year when the board campaigned for the park tax that is allowing for this development, they told the voters that they would come up with a plan. He said the board could be getting into troubled waters, spending $10,000 here or there without a plan. The board budgeted $50,000 this year for a plan.
“I’m not saying you need to go out and pay somebody $50,000 to do a plan,” Childers said. “You need a plan that shows where everything is going to end up so that you don’t say a year from now, ‘Gosh, I wish we didn’t get all of these swing sets because we need to put this over there and that over there.’ It’s reaching that point.
“You need to have that in a plan that the park board takes to the community and says, ‘This is the plan we’re working on. What do you think?’” Childers added.
Board Treasurer Luana Bloom also expressed some concerns for spending money too quickly.
“We’re spending a lot at the first of the year,” Bloom said. “We may not have anything left to spend. We’re going to have to slow down.”
Board President Joyce Bowles took exception to Childers’ suggestion that the board stop spending and develop a plan.
“Do you have a city plan?” Bowles asked.
Childers responded by saying the city does have a plan but, “It doesn’t say anything.”
Bowles pressed the issue and asked, “Then why don’t you have a city plan?”
“I didn’t tell the voters I would have one,” Childers responded.
“But you would think the city would have a plan too,” Bowles countered.
Childers told the board that it does not sound like the board would have too hard of a time coming up with a plan.
“You have a pretty good picture in each of your individual heads of where you’re going,” Childers said. “That’s your plan. You just need to put that down on paper.”

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