Marion leaders approve revamped recreation commission

The Marion City Commission Monday approved the creation of a new Marion Recreation Commission administered in partnership with USD 408.

The commission also approved resolutions to enable more work on the depot/library renovation and Brooker Plaza Spring in the park.

A new water-plant foreman was announced by City Administrator Dennis Nichols. Darrell Drake, the candidate previously announced, withdrew to enable a career move by his wife.

The new foreman is Stacy Runnion, who has managed the Phillipsburg water plant five years and taught classes in water quality at Dodge City Community College.

Commissioner Jim Crofoot said he hoped the public would understand the recreation reorganization isn’t any reflection on the way recreation has been running until now.

“This is not getting rid of it, just fine tuning it,” Crofoot said.

Nichols said the reorganization is of a second-stage nature that might be developed in the future into a third stage with its own mil levy.

He said the new rec commission would have a board of five commissioners. Two would be appointed by the city, two appointed by USD 408, and the fifth appointed by the first four. This board could hire a professional director.

Nichols said the salary of Don Jolley, recreation director, would continue to be paid by the city, and his assistant, Margo Yates, would continue to be paid by USD 408.

Commissioner Larry Reiswig said he was bothered that no one person seemed to be in charge on the new commission.

Jolley said he believes accountability will be achieved by the rec commission naming a director, setting policy and establishing fees. He added that it will have to report its proceedings for the approval of both the city commission and the USD 408 board.

Nichols said the city’s resolution now goes to the USD 408 board for consideration.

Jolley said that as the entity with the larger budget as required by state law, USD 408 would be in charge of any subsequent levy.

He added that the rec commission wouldn’t own anything-no buildings, facilities or parks.

Nichols said it is the intent that the new commission utilize all city and school facilities for the maximum benefit of all age groups in the community.

Nichols didn’t anticipate more changes in plans for the depot renovation after he and librarian Janet Marler met with project architects to review bid documents Monday. He said the Kansas Department of Transportation may have “a couple more questions” on the project, but he expects KDOT approval for grant money.

Mark Moore, designer for the spring in the park, submitted an initial bid of $74,000 to complete its construction, but Nichols said he was able to work with Moore to cut the cost to $52,000, which is covered by donations from Mrs. Paul Brooker and others.

He said the Parks Board and Margaret Wolf, liaison for Brooker, are pleased with the plans which use a natural look with stone, and native flora such as redbud trees and gooseberries.

A stone wall along the park street grades down to a stream running between the two ponds along the existing stone wall on the embankment. Nichols said water is piped back to be recycled, and the stream also channels run-off water from the high school lot down the embankment and from the street to Mud Creek.

Nichols said construction materials of $24,000 “include $7,800 for plantings, aquatic plantings, stone, flagstone paving and steps, backfill gravel, base for retaining walls, paving, liner and under liner, liner accessories, equipment rental and usage, pumps, plumbing and weed barrier fabric.”

He said installation costs of $28,000 “include excavation for waterfall and stream, installation of paving and retaining walls, installation of pumps and lines, installation of stone, planting and mulching.”

He said Moore can begin work in six weeks, with four more weeks required for completion-making the target date in late August in time for Old Settlers Day.

Nichols said the city may be able to pave the park street and parking area as part of the project.

Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent, said surveys are being done for street elevation and drainage and utilities installation at the business industrial park. His crew also is working on street patching.

Harvey Sanders, utilities superintendent, said two power outages this week were caused by squirrels contacting insulators on transformers.

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