Park may open in June

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

Almost a year after talk about refurbishing the Eminence City swimming pool culminated in a meeting that ultimately terminated the project, a new park is about to open in the pool’s place.

Monday night, Eminence City Council member Drane Stephens said functional bathrooms and clearing up any safety issues are the last barriers to the park’s opening.

“My goal was June 1, I don’t know if we can make it or not, but that was my goal,” he told the rest of the council.

Despite chain link fencing remains around the new playground, Stephens said they know somebody’s been on the equipment already.

During Monday night’s meeting, the council finalized the first phase of what will be called Coach D Park.

Last week, the city learned that it did not receive a grant to pay for the crumb rubber and approved the purchase $18,269 worth of the material to go under playground equipment which already has been erected. Additionally, the council approved the purchase of new doors for the bathrooms at $5,685.

Monday night, the council approved an additional $13,000 for the park — including a $2,000 bid for labor to lay concrete for the park’s basketball court and pavilion pad, as well as $3,750 in concrete for the court, $977 for 50 tons of gravel and its transport, $2,600 materials for the pavilion, another $750 for 10 yards of concrete for the pavilion, $2,000 in labor to build it, $400-500 for valve work in the bathrooms, and up to $1,000 in painting costs.

To give the city a little wiggle room, the council approved spending up to $15,000 on the items.

Earlier this year, the city also purchased $35,185 in playground equipment for the park, as well as $4,352 in “timbers” to surround the playground and contain the crumb rubber, and grills.

For the year, the city has, or will, spent more than $78,000 for the first phase of the park.

A sign for the park will be allocated in the 2009-2010 parks budget.

The council discussed holding a grand opening eventually. “Then the same television stations that came out and made fun of us for the frog pond,” could return, Stephens said.

In other business:

• The council agreed it would pursue annexation of property on Elm Street owned by Kenneth Way. The property is scheduled for a Planning and Zoning meeting tonight to change from A1 to B2.

• The council approved $24,000 toward the GIS mapping of the city’s water and sewer systems.

• The council approved listing the city’s old backhoe as surplus property. The old backhoe was replaced with a new one, purchased for about $57,000.

• The council discussed what it could do to increase awareness of special called meetings. Though the city is not required to do so, it posts announcements of special meetings at Cooks and the Eminence Post Office. Council member Leo Mason said he had been approached by several community members about what can be done to improve on that.

The discussion drew a defensive posture from Eminence Mayor Jim Petitt and harsh words from Council Member Shawn Bright. “My thing is, we’ve been doing it the same way for over 100 years,” he said, going on to suggest that it was members of the Making Waves Committee prompting the requests for better communication about the meetings. “I believe until we have somebody with integrity, unlike Making Waves, approaching us,” the city doesn’t need to change its method for announcing the meetings, he argued.

The comments drew a response from Making Waves members Doug and Manda Gingrich. Because they were not on the agenda to speak, however, Petitt did not allow them to speak.

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