Park board reviews erosion issue, approves events and playground proposal

The Vermilion Parks and Recreation Board met on Tuesday, June 18, for a regular meeting. Board chair Terry Parker, vice-chair Brad Scholtz, board member Bill Warden, board member Dennis Brudney, board member Elizabeth Wakefield, board member Jeff Keck, and board member Erica Cann were all in attendance, as well as parks operations supervisor Marc Weisenberger and recreation director Chad Kuhns.

Park use permits
The board started by reviewing two community group use permits. The first was for Chalk It Up, hosted by Main Street Vermilion, scheduled for Saturday, August 3, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. utilize the Village Greens. Robbie Brown representing the organizers of Chalk It Up, said normally they have this event from Liberty Avenue to the railroad tracks, but the businesses were complaining so they have moved this event from the tracks south to Ohio Street. The Village Greens Park will be utilized with a portable canopy. It was noted the Farmer’s Market won’t need to use the street in front of their market.

Board member Bill Warden asked if they thought about the negative aspects of people not having access to the parking lot by the train tracks. Brown responded that the parking lot by St. Mary Church won’t be used and they can access it from the alley-way or from Exchange Street, so it shouldn’t be a problem. They will still be able to use the parking lot to park. They are only using some of the parking spaces on Main Street south of the tracks. She said the city is aware they will be using the street and they have offered to help with signage, etc. Warden asked if they could move it further back from the tracks, so people can still access the lot. Brown stated they don’t want to risk anyone turning into the area where the kids will be located, and the Farmer’s Market doesn’t have a problem with blocking the west side of the parking lot entrance since they have access to the parking lot from the east and southerly entrances.

The second permit request was for Harbourtown Fine Arts Center for an ice cream social scheduled for Sunday, July 7 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. also in the Village Greens. There was no representation for this event, but Marilyn Forster, President of HFAC submitted the application. Board chair Terry Parker shared that they provided insurance and the Ice Cream Social is to provide a family activity in the park area before the scheduled concert in the gazebo in Victory Park at 7:00 pm. Pre-sale tickets are $5.00; gate tickets are $6.00 for all the ice cream you want. They are hoping to raise $300-$500 to be used for building operating expenses. Board member Erica Cann asked how they can charge a gate or admission fee for an event that is in the park, since it isn’t a pavilion and they aren’t charged a rental fee. Parker said to get your ice-cream you have to hand them a ticket, so it’s not a gate admission. Both permits were approved with a unanimous vote.

Recreation director’s report
Recreation director Chad Kuhns reported he has been working through rain-outs and rescheduling baseball games, which has been a challenge. He said they have been holding football conditioning practices on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. With the expansion of going from the regular tackle football to the rookie tackle and flag they have had more kids participating. Because of this they will need to purchase more helmets.

They did some fundraising, and they have about $600 left that the high school is holding for them. Therefore, he asked the Parks Board if they could match this with another $600 from the capital improvement fund to purchase the helmets they need to support this program. Vice-chair Brad Scholtz asked how much the helmets cost. Kuhns responded they are around $80.00 per helmet. Parker asked if the helmets stay with the program and not the player. Kuhns confirmed the helmets would stay with the program. He said they have estimated $1,200 for helmets for the season. Board member Jeff Keck made a motion to approve the purchase of additional football helmets from the capital levy fund not to exceed $600, which was approved with a unanimous vote.

Parks operations supervisor’s report
Parks Operations Supervisor Marc Weisenberger said they have been battling the rainy weather getting into the parks and getting them mowed. They’re starting to get a little ahead of the game. He said in the budget meeting they had talked about purchasing a new Zero-turn mower to replace the Scagg mower that is 10 years old. He said at North Shore Landscape they have a Hustler XL 60” Deck mower for $9,000, which does an excellent job. They need a more reliable mower and something that moves quicker. It also disburses and provides a cleaner and nicer cut. The purchase of a Hustler XL 60” Deck Mower from North Shore Landscape was approved by the board.

Weisenberger shared he received a quote for $28,605 to replace the gazebo roof with a grey slate metal roof. He said he can take these specs and get a couple more quotes if the board agrees. This roof has a 50-year warranty. Parker said this would have to get approval from the Vermilion Historic Design and Review Board. Cann advised him to have roof samples for the historic board. Parker conveyed that he likes the look and the longevity of this material and the rest of the board agreed. The board asked him to pursue more estimates and bring it back next month.

Weisenberger also said there are seven benches at Rotary Park that were approved to be relocated and asked the board their thoughts on where they would like them. Warden said they have talked about Showse Park for the last five years as they have one picnic table, so this may be a good location. He thought a good area to place them would be in front of the parking lot as opposed to the extreme eastern end above the bluff. Weisenberger said he would look at this location. Board member Elizabeth Wakefield asked if the Vermilion Rotary Club was consulted on removing the benches. Weisenberger responded that this was already approved, but he will check with Rotary and Dana before moving them.

Mayor Jim Forthofer asked for an update on the intentions on leveling the bricks in Exchange Park as he recently saw someone catch themselves and fall during the Fish Festival. Parker said in their budget subcommittee meetings they have been forecasting how they will use the capital levy funds over the next five years. They ballparked $20,000 for this project for this summer, but it’s a matter of coming in with some hard numbers. Parker said they will review the capital fund for the next five years and will project out some things that need to be done. Forthofer said there is such a degree of difference between the concrete and the bricks. He said they may have to use cones to block off one section. Parker said the bricks will need to come up and some base put underneath. Weisenberger said he would get with Dana on where they left off with this project.
Parker asked Weisenberger to update the board on the condition of the baseball field at Sherod Park. Weisenberger said because of the erosion, they removed the center field fence before it fell over. They wanted to be proactive rather than trying to pull it up from down below. He said there has only been one team playing on this field and they will coordinate use of a field for the four or five remaining games with the recreation director.

Playground committee
Board member Wakefield said the board received an email on concept ideas for the new playground being planned for Sherod Park. They have met several times and came up with a plan that’s very generic, but it fits the Sherod Park area. It’s a little woodsier looking and it’s a typical playground equipment plan. She asked the board members if they were in favor of the concept that was presented, and if so, can they go full steam ahead and start fundraising. Parker asked who was pursuing the grant they received for the 10’ swing that goes in the pool area. Wakefield responded that Weisenberger has everything for Sherod Park and for the swing. Wakefield went on to say it’s a lot of money to raise, but anything they can do to enhance this park system is appropriate and they did get the small grant to spiff up the existing equipment. The board approved the proposed playground concept with a unanimous vote.

Wakefield asked in the event they find a major donor that wants to pay for a lot of things in the park, and that donor asks if he/she has any naming rights for that playground section, would the board consider this. There would probably be a small sign erected near the playground. Recreation director Kuhns said they have plaques on benches now and Showse Park was named Paluch Field. The board didn’t have a problem with this.

Future meeting
The next Vermilion Parks and Recreation Board meeting will be Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m. in the courtroom of the municipal complex on Decatur Street.

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