Marion council hears from new Park Improvement Committee

The Marion City Council and Mayor Mary Olson toured Central Park during their meeting Monday, Oct. 19, to find out more about what future improvements are planned through a newly established group, the Park Improvement Committee.

Todd Heitschmidt, chairman of the new group, said his committee is coordinating its efforts with members of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, Chingawassa Committee, Kiwanis Club and Park Board.

?A lot of people have talked about improving the park (over the years), but nothing has been done,? he said.

Consequently, a few months ago, the new group became a catalyst in making that happen.

Assisted by Harvey Sanders, public works director, and Kevin Hill, city parks and facilities maintenance, Heitschmidt explained the first phase of park improvements scheduled to begin in 2010.

This first phase was already approved by councilors at a recent meeting.

Using about $20,000 of the $50,000 the city received from the Paul Brooker Trust Fund for Central Park improvements, Phase I involves moving aboveground lines on three existing poles to underground lines inside the park.

In addition, two new poles would be added on the south end of the bowl-shaped area near the park?s center.

Until more money is available to place brand new poles on pedestals, the three existing poles would remain in place for lighting.

Also within the first phase, the committee is recommending policies be developed for the park and naming an event coordinator.

?The coordinator could be Angela (Lange, city clerk) or Margo (Yates, Marion Chamber of Commerce director) or someone else in the city office,? he said.

In the second phase, Heitschmidt said the committee members are looking at more electrical issues by adding a transformer, replacing sidewalks, considering option on the gazebo and the possibility of moving the stage.

?The sidewalks at the main entrance are the worst,? he said. Another recommendation the committee will be making to the council would be the gazebo and bathrooms.

?The gazebo will not last forever and the bathrooms could stay in the same location since plumbing is already there,? he said.

Hill said the gazebo was built by the Marion High School Class of 1986.

?It (the gazebo) is just wearing out,? he said.

Hill pointed out bad spots in the sheeting on the outside which is starting to rot away.

?A lot has been patched up over the years,? he said.

Other upgrades in the second phase or a future phase would be fixing the retaining wall on Main Street, possibly replacing the railing with a rod iron-type of fencing, the poles on pedestals, stage and more, Heitschmidt said.

Sanders said work on preparing to place the underground lines could begin as early as this winter (depending on how cold the ground gets).

In other council business:

n clean-up week started Monday for residents in Marion. Anyone who would like to have bulky items, such as furniture, appliances and more hauled away is encouraged to call the city office, 620-382-3703 by Friday to set up a time and day for pickup.

n Police Chief Josh Whitwell said ?Red Ribbon Week,? will be recognized next week. The observance raises awareness and a commitment to drug prevention and education. The event is also a way of remembering the ultimate sacrifice made by Enrique ?Kiki? Camarena, a DEA special agent, who was killed by drug traffikers in Mexico while fighting the battle against illegal drugs.

Whitwell and other police officers will also conduct the ?Stranger Danger? program for preschoolers, along with getting ready for Halloween.

n Councilor Stacey Collett asked Sanders about the new auger truck purchased from Skyco Equipment in Sarsota, Fla. for about $41,000.

The used auger truck will assist with pole replacement and other projects.

n councilors went into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss trade secrets. Doug Kjellin, the city?s economic development director, was also asked to attend. No action was taken.

n a second executive session was called for 20 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel. No action was taken.

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