Despite budget cuts, parks and recreation prepare for summer season

The Vermilion Parks & Recreation Board met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 20. The following are from the minutes of that meeting.

Shore Thing: Jennie Pryor of the Shore Thing announced this is their 8th year and they are going through a couple of changes.  Last year they had around 12 people involved and this year they have 24.  It will allow several of them to retire, so they will have new faces and energy.  They are working through the process of sliding under ‘Main Street Vermilion’, so they will be a committee under them, which they will become not for profit as they were an LLC before.  Last year they were able to give over $3,700 back to the city in various ways, so they’re very happy about this.  They will not have the Drum Circle this year hoping somebody will miss it and new people will step up.

Pryor also shared they have noticed that road signs in Florida say, “Exit here for Taco Bell or Gulf Beaches”.  She asked why there aren’t signs like this for Vermilion possibly saying, “Exit here for Lake Erie Beaches and Parks”.  There are so many beautiful areas in Vermilion, so why not get them off Route 2 and into Vermilion.   Therefore, she asked if the Parks Board would want to pursue this or if they would want to give them permission to pursue this with ODOT.  The board expressed interest with this concept and was willing to let the Shore Thing pursue this and to reach out to the City if a formal request needs to me made.

Beach bathroom: Dan Pruor asked the board members where they stood with a mobile restroom.  Board member Jon Logue said nowhere at this point as they are trying to figure out the cost and how they are going to do this.  Chad Kuhns noted he received an estimate for a mobile restroom in his mail, which he would forward to the responsible party.

Youth Sports: Recreation department director Chad Kuhns reported basketball season was finished on March 8, and everything went well.  They worked with Firelands for the girl’s league.  He was looking into getting together a spring flag football league, but he wasn’t able to get the communities they play with in the fall to play again in the spring.  He noted he sent out the forms for sponsorships and received great support from the businesses and the community to sponsor teams for the recreation department.  For the softball and baseball leagues; the past couple years the softball kids ages 11-13 had two teams, so this year they joined the Westshore Rec League Conference, and did the same with the baseball kids ages 13-14.  They continue to play with Amherst in baseball and softball, ages 9-10.

Cuts to maintenance budget: Parks director Dana Corogin said the parks maintenance in the general fund got cut by $24,000, so they will need to see if they are able to hire a part time person to help with the mowing.  They talked about other ways of mowing the vacant lots with an outside contractor.  She didn’t think they could clean the beaches if they don’t have additional help because keeping the parks mowed at an acceptable level will be challenging, so they will see if they can get somebody seasonally on a part time basis.  Even getting Main Street beach cleaned will be difficult.  Getting the container delivered costs several hundred dollars, so she wondered if they would be able to get a burn permit to burn the wood on the beach.  She said Vermilion is in a mini recession this year and they all need to help to make things look nice.  She feels bad that it’s on the tails of passing parks levy money, but its reality.

In terms of projects going on at the parks they are waiting for the weather to break to start the lighting project at Showse Park and she commented that Justin Miller will be doing the revetment.  There will be improvements that will be done this year from money that was encumbered last year.

In East Exchange Park, Vermilion in Bloom was thinking about trying to do a project down by the dock because it’s a trip hazard, but they are meeting with the city engineer tomorrow, along with a contractor, an architect, and Barnes Nursery to look at this area to see if they can rehab it.  They may have problems with the bulkhead and if this is the case, then it could be a bigger project than what they are able to do, but they will evaluate to see if it’s possible.

Corogin said they are trying to make Village Greens look nicer and more park-like and the eight historic lights do not work so in speaking with Satellite Electric she found it will cost $125 per lamp to put a new LED lamp in there and rewire around the existing ballast at an estimated cost of $1,000.  Satellite Electric is meeting with Doug Keith who is representing the Chamber of Commerce to see if they can hook into the meter that they put in for doing their festivals.  She thinks it could be around $1,500 when it’s all said and done if they want the lights on during the summer.

Tennis courts: Board member Jeff Keck reported after speaking with Superintendent Pempin they wanted to advise the board there is something bigger they are looking at right now, so this project has been put on hold.  They may even change the locations of the tennis courts, so there is something in the works that is in the early stages.  He said that Mr. Pempin had asked if the Parks Board would still honor their commitment to the Tennis Courts once they decide to do the project.  Therefore, the $5,000 allocated this year to the tennis courts is available for the Parks Board to spend if they don’t need it this year to put towards the tennis courts.

Harbor View Project: Board member Jon Logue said things are moving along and there had been discussions on what they want to do there, but they need additional time to figure it out.  At the last Parks Board meeting they had known they didn’t get state capital funding, but since then there were a couple of them that went to Columbus to meet with Senator Gardner and Representative Arndt.  They have an idea of what they need to do to get money out of the state capital budget.  They have two years to put together a good plan to make sure they get some allocation from the state.

They need to figure out how they will add additional parking, restrooms, and some sort of a venue for people to use.  Mayor Forthofer said Logue presented the project well to Senator Gardner and Representative Arndt, but the project wasn’t far enough along to be able to get the funding they were looking for.  Logue said they would like to have a plan in place this year, so they can move forward with fundraising.

Board member Scholtz said there are three good points they need to address which include parking, public access, and something appropriate for the site.  Logue said they certainly need restrooms and a concession area would be good, along with increasing the parking in a very thoughtful way.  There are limitations and restrictions on the property of what they can and cannot do that he thinks a lot of times gets lost in the shuffle. They want to put parking, restrooms, and an event venue there, but they can’t have anything that is fully commercial or government offices, or anything that’s a private business, and it’s limited by the size.  They can’t exceed the footprint of what is there and the impervious surfaces. They have a decent sized property to work with and with proper planning they can come up with what is exactly right for this site, but it won’t happen overnight.

 

 

 

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