iscussions of maintenance at Platte Ridge Park highlighted the Platte City Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night.
Ideas were tossed around to attempt solving the existing problem of repairing perceived maintenance problems at the park property. Several members of the Platte City Parks Board sat in the audience to help the mayor and aldermen understand what they are up against and how they plan to help solve the problem.
The city has a partnership in the county owned Platte Ridge Park with the county and the Platte City Parks Board that began in 2004. The Platte County commissioners sent Dannie Stamper, director of Platte City parks and recreation, a letter dated Dec. 21 outlining areas where the county believes the city has neglected to uphold its part of the original agreement to maintain the park. The city has a 90 day period to “cure the material defaults,” the letter stated.
The main issues the county wants corrected includes the baseball and soccer complexes, trail surfaces, fencing, safety and security issues, and a connecting road in the park. The city responded to the county’s letter, dated Jan. 10, that costs to repair the property could exceed $100,000. The city is requesting the county shares in this cost, split $60,000 on the city’s part and the remaining $40,000 by the county.
A meeting was held Jan. 11 where the Parks Board, three county commissioners, and two aldermen were present to represent the city. The goal of this meeting was trying to use a round table method and resolve the current maintenance issues. Aldermen Aaron Jung and Ken Brown discussed several issues at the meeting including the next step the city should take to correct the problem.
“Even though we knew we weren’t authorized to make a decision on behalf of the board at that meeting, we were able to hear the county’s side of the story,” Brown said. “We went through a lot of bullet points and threw possible ideas around to see which road we can take.”
Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks said he was questioned several times why other aldermen were not present at the meeting and why. He said he was confident that he chose to send Jung and Brown, who “did a fine job.” He said he and other aldermen have attended at least five meetings on this subject in the past to speak with the county commissioners.
“It was never our goal for this issue to become confrontational,” said Brooks. “We need to find out where we are and take the necessary action. The city feels like we did our part already and taken care of the things we promised to do in the past, but every time you turn around the county expects the city or parks board to be responsible for coming up with the necessary money for this project. That’s what everything comes down to, the money and where it will come from.”
Brooks said the possibility of obtaining grant money to repair the park was still an option and stated, “You don’t get any money if you don’t ask for it.” Jung said the city and the county agree on one issue, if nothing else.
“Both the city and commissioners are aware how important it is for us to go ahead and sign the kids up for their sports teams,” Jung said. “We will go ahead with that and we both want a resolution to finally move forward and make changes.”
At the Jan. 11 meeting with the commissioners, chairman of the parks board Bill Burnett, approached the idea of using a volunteer work force to repair the park instead of spending money they don’t have to hire a contractor. This notion was frowned upon by Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight, who called this volunteer work force “a major concern and they can be difficult to rely on.”
At the aldermen’s meeting, Jung said he believes the commissioners would be more comfortable if the city decided to hire an outside contractor for the repair work.
“By hiring a contractor to take charge of this issue, it can help stabilize the maintenance costs and lessen the workload of the city’s parks staff. Is it possible to begin soliciting outside bids for this service? We need some sort of timeline to go by.”
Alderman Lee Roy Van Lew brought up the name of a man who is both a contractor and an engineer whom the city has worked with in the past on capital improvement projects. Van Lew said Jim Kissick is currently working on a storm sewer project for the CIP and would be an ideal candidate for the city to hire. There is no time to waste and Brooks said he planned to immediately contact Kissick and speak to him while getting a definite “yes” or “no” answer. Brown reiterated action needs to be taken soon since the board has less than 90 days to make changes and repairs at the park.
“There are several areas we need to revisit, but the county’s main concern seems to be the erosion issues,” Brown said. “We need to try hard and keep the execution of the 90 day dissolution from happening.”
Van Lew spoke of a letter the commissioners sent the city in response to their last meeting with two of the aldermen. He said the commissioners want both a contractor and an engineer hired, and since Kissick holds both titles, the best option is trying to hire him instead of taking the time to ask multiple firms to bid.
The open discussion among the crowd centered around the need to work with the county even though some felt the city was less responsible and the county were the ones who needed to take the initiative.
“The county won’t fess up about what they did when all of this began,” said Marsha Clark, a member of the park board. “I feel like we haven’t had a real good meeting of minds. They certainly have not welcomed us with open arms.”
Alderman George McClintock said he does not believe the county “will chip in on the costs” like they originally offered. Jung said the meeting with the commissioners was a positive experience with open communication and he wants to see it happen again. Brooks responded by initiating an invitation for the future when the community and commissioners will be invited to city hall for a meeting on Platte Ridge Park.
Burnett admitted the parks board has overlooked a few areas of maintenance in the past, but it can quickly be reversed and made better than ever.
“I know we’re capable of tackling different sections a little at a time,” Burnett said. “We plan on doing this and I think it will show the county we’re serious about making repairs. We were doing what we thought was right. Sure, we did construct some of the park phases faster than we should have and it will take some time to fix things. But Dannie’s crew (Dannie Stamper, director of Platte City parks and recreation) are the hardest working people I know.”
Brooks said he hopes to see more action taken on this park maintenance issue before the board’s next meeting on Feb. 13.
“You would hope we can reach an agreement with the county and finally move on,” said Brooks.