At this week’s parks board meeting, Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes urged its members to come up with a plan for Irvine-McDowell Park.
“What would you like that park to look like?” Barnes said.
Richmond Tourism Director Lori Murphy-Tatum told the board that after the property and Irvinton house were willed to the city, a 1971 court ruling clarified what the park may be used for in accordance with that will.
There are 13 provisions, including the stipulation that Richmond can never sell the park, Murphy-Tatum said.
Barnes said his vision for the property was to make it a “passive park,” one that would provide residents a place of quietness and serenity. Murphy-Tatum said the will dictated that if the property became a park, it would be one of “quiet reflection.”
Barnes recently had one of the softball fields removed from Irvine-McDowell Park, and he told the board he wanted to move all the ball fields at the park to Lake Reba. He suggested naming the baseball complex at Lake Reba after local baseball legend Earl Combs. One of the Irvine-McDowell Fields had been named for Combs.
Barnes also told the board that in the future, anything affiliated with the city’s park system should come through the board first. Board chair Dan McBride has complained about the ball field being removed without consulting the board.
Later in the meeting, McBride said it was important for Director of Recreation Erin Moore to get a short-term, six-to-nine month plan in place until the park system’s master plan is updated.
“The mayor is moving forward with a lot of stuff, with or without us,” McBride said.
At last month’s meeting, the board voted to recommend the city commission award a $19,300 contract to Dr. Jon McChesney to create a new master plan for the park system. McChesney chairs Eastern Kentucky University’s Parks and Recreation Administration Department.
The last master plan was created in 2008, and it needs updating, board member Bob Riley said at that meeting. Plans are usually renewed every five years.
Moore said she has included the cost for the master plan update in her proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Joe Bentley, director of parks building and grounds maintenance, told the board that maintenance work has been delayed at the parks and facilities because of weather and other factors.
“We’re way behind on stuff,” Bentley said.
He added that staff have been busy getting the Paradise Cove pool ready for its May 25 opening. Various work needs to be done at Adventure Falls, including a new roof on the building, and new computers and air conditioning for the Paradise Cove building need to be installed, according to Bentley and Moore.
At E.C. Million Park, mud is flowing into the main shelter when it rains, and Bentley said work needs to be done on the retaining walls.
A small shelter at Camp Catalpa is rotting and needs replacement, and the shelter roof at Dillingham Heights also needs replacement.
McBride said he is interested in buying a lot for sale at 111 Pine Street next to the Dillingham Heights. It would be a good location to add to the playground, he said.
No action was taken on this topic.
Moore told the board that the parks and recreation department did not receive a grant for crumb rubber. The material is used for playground areas, and it tends to last longer than mulch, which washes away over time. She added that mats can be added on top of the mulch, which is an “easy fix for now.”
Board members discussed adding a softball recreational league that would cost less for players. Instead of having two umpires and a scorekeeper, the staffing would drop to one umpire and no scorekeeper for a recreational league. The recreational league also would not give awards.
This year the team cost to participate in softball league play is $350, an increase from last year’s fee of $270. The board noted that it had been losing money on the league before raising the rate. However, 47 teams have signed up this year, a drop from 50 the year before.
The parks and recreation department is still exploring installing bike trails at Camp Catalpa, Moore said. The department has received a $20,000 grant for the project, however, the city must pay a $10,000 match.
Moore said the project is “a lot more than we expected” but the idea is still being looked at, possibly for placement at Lake Reba.
The board tentatively set the next board meeting for noon June 11 at the parks and recreation department building, 321 North Second St.