Several Park/Rec Projects Put On Hold For Financing
Hopes that naming right sponsors may finance some of the improvements needed at the City of Peshtigos ball fields may bear fruit. Parks and Recreation Director Dave Zahn reported to his parent committee on Tuesday, April 29 that he has an offer from Patriot Fence, owned by Mike Biehl, to deduct the $4,500 naming fee from the cost of some badly needed fencing at Field No. 3, which is located across the street from the Marinette County Highway and Forestry Shop.
A hitch is that the city would need to come up with money to pay the $2,700 difference, so for now the committee took no action. Another hitch is that the naming rights program has not yet been formally adopted and advertised.
A complication of the financing end is that funds that were supposed to have been specifically dedicated for parks and recreation projects in the city for several years have been going directly into the citys general fund and were never tracked as to income and expenditures.
This includes grant proceeds, for which the city must provide an accounting to the granting agency; $82,000 from the sale of a property bequeathed to the city with the stipulation that the money be used to enhance recreation in the city, and rent collected for use of the large pavilion, which was donated to the city with the stipulation that income earned from it will be kept separate and used for repair and maintenance of the structure. No separate accounting has been done.
Acting Clerk/Treasurer Vicki Koronkiewicz confirmed that the monies all went into the citys general account, and were not earmarked for the specific funds. You cannot look at that account and say this is what went in and this is what went out, she said. That problem had also been discussed at the Finance Committee meeting the previous day.
Mayor Cathi Malke, who chaired the Parks and Recreation Committee until she won the mayors seat on Tuesday, April 1, said after a lot of work she has a good record of where the Badger Park grant money was spent, but said getting that information assembled ...was a nightmare. There was a lot of extra work that would not have needed to be done. That grant money was never accounted for separately!
It appears that a conflict in scheduling of games for a new Mens Softball League organized by Zahn and Peshtigo Youth Baseball (PYB), of which his predecessor, Dave Marquardt is an officer, have been settled. PYB for years has had games each night, Monday through Thursday, according to Marquardt, and Zahn had scheduled the mens softball games for Tuesday evenings.
Marquardt, who left the job Zahn now holds to take a position as assistant Marinette County Parks director, was recently elected to the City Council. Zahn was recently elected to Marinette County Board and assigned to serve on the Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Committee.
Zahn reported there are 10 teams in Peshtigos new mens softball league. Five of the teams are from Peshtigo, and have Peshtigo sponsors and the majority of players on a sixth team are from Peshtigo. Its popular and lots of people are excited!
I believe the schedule is workable, Zahn declared. He said the Peshtigo Youth Baseball games will be done by 6 p.m., when the mens games will start.
I was told the teams were coming from Marinette, commented Committee Chair Brigette Schmidt. She was glad that is not the case.
We need to make our communications better, Malke declared. Wed have saved a lot of time and effort if wed have known that over half of the softball players are from Peshtigo, and sponsored by local businesses. Malke said the issue was whether it was fair to make PYB change its whole schedule to accommodate teams from Marinette.
Zahn said many young men from Peshtigo played softball in Marinette because there was no season-long league here, where they couldnt start until PYB was done for the season.
Marquardt said softball is cyclical - very popular for a time, and then interest dies down. Right now the most popular is co-ed softball.
Malke asked Zahn if he was planning to have adult softball tournaments. He felt perhaps later but there are no immediate plans.
Marquardt said with 10 teams there will be games that require the lights to be on well after 11 p.m., and I worry about the neighbors.
Zahn said the mens league has changed some rules to make the games go faster, and once the PYB season is over they may adjust their game schedule.
Schmidt asked about reports that the league will save money by doing its own umpiring. She wondered if they will be drinking while they are doing that.
You would be surprised how many of these guys dont drink, Zahn told her. He said he will be one of the umps for the first game each night, and then members of teams who are finished for the evening will umpire subsequent games.
Schmidt said people had come to her with concerns about beer drinking in the ball park, fights, and the self-umpiring issues.
If there starts being an issue with unruly people, things will change, Alderman Mike Behnke assured her.
When people come to you with questions about my job, I would like to be the first person to know, not the last! declared Zahn.
Alderman Mary Lock, a short time later, suggested people with complaints should be directed to the department head or the mayor, If people want to be anonymous, that isnt really a complaint.
Schmidt said she put the softball league discussion on the meetings agenda, to avoid hurting feelings or causing problems.
Behnke said citizens with complaints should be directed to the source - the department head or whoever is directly involved. If we get a complaint and bring it to committee 30 days later, it may already be resolved.
Both Marquardt and Zahn assured Schmidt they are now okay with the scheduling issues. Zahn said for this first year of the league they may need to iron out some scheduling details.
Schmidt asked Zahn how he communicates with the teams and their leagues, if he does mass e-mailings, makes phone calls, etc.
Were getting better, Zahn said. For example, now the high school calls me if their schedule changes.
Schmidt suggested mass e-mailings should go out to the leagues so other teams are informed if a change comes in. She asked Zahn if he has group meetings with the leagues, and if the leagues have meetings.
Behnke said when he coached, his league met once before the season started and again when it was time to pick the all-stars.
Zahn said many things the leagues might meet on are internal, and he would not need to attend, but if they want me there, Im open to that.
The committee for months has been discussing improvements needed at the ball fields and how to pay for them. One suggestion was to sell naming rights, and a price of $4,500 was established for the right to name one of the fields for five years.
Documents for the naming rights program had been prepared and submitted to City Attorney Dave Spangenberg for approval and adoption is expected at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 6, after which Zahn will advertise for field sponsors.
After a meeting with the leagues some months ago, Zahn had compiled a list of the most urgent needs for each of the four fields. He presented that list at Tuesdays meeting. It includes general repairs at each field such as painting, concession stand repairs , etc., and numerous specific items, for example mending the fence at Field No. 3, and raising it from 6 feet to 12 feet between the main backstop and the dugouts for safety reasons.
A local business will do repairs to the warning tracks along the fences without charge, Zahn reported. Peshtigo Girls Softball is already working on an awning above their concession stand at Field No 4.
Zahn said he had asked Patriot Fence for some prices on the fence work for Field No. 3, and about the possibility of naming rights involved with it. Biehl had responded with a proposal broken down into several segments. The entire offer, with everything complete except batting cages, would cost $16,362 after deducting the $4,500 for naming rights. Removing the existing fence alone and replacing it with the 12-foot chain link fence had a price tag of $6,670. After deducting the naming rights fee the city would need to pay $2,700 to do the fence they want with all incidental expenses covered.
Marquardt said that fence is the most urgent need at this time because the older kids play hardball there, and people sitting in the bleachers are in danger. He wondered if Patriot Fence would be interested in naming rights if they do not get the fencing job, and if other firms had been given an opportunity to quote prices.
Zahn said there is a total of $4,800 in his budget for upgrades and maintenance of the ball fields this year.
Schmidt suggested someone sponsor another field and they could use that money to pay the remainder for the fence at Field 3.
Everyone agreed they should hold off on the fence agreement and put out public notice advertising availability of the naming rights.
Behnke stressed they should be very careful not to give the appearance they were picking and choosing who would get the naming rights.
Marquardt had a wish list of things PYB wants to accomplish on the fields they use before their season starts. It includes raking and other work. Malke asked if the PYB volunteers would also help rake Badger Park, and Marquardt felt they would. The city, school and team members all work together and share manpower and equipment as needed.
Formal approval of the naming rights documents is expected at the Council meeting on Tuesday, May 6.
Also coming up at Tuesdays Council meeting will be a recommendation to approve the new Facility Rental Agreement for the citys ball fields. Zahn said they will need copies of insurances for all age groups that use the fields. Koronkiewicz said Spangenberg told her the documents are ready for Council action. Zahn will contact him. Zahn said he needs the formal agreements soon because the County Line tournament is coming up.
The committee also discussed some proposed changes in the ordinance regulating Badger Park Campground fees. Zahn suggested listing the fees on an attachment as is done for other city fee schedules so a change in rates does not require amending the ordinance itself. He said as written, the ordinance also does not give them the right to charge for certain other city facilities.
Marquardt suggested they need to decide how far to go with charges. The next step would be to charge for a wedding in the gazebo, he declared. We have open parks and they are there for the public to use.
Koronkiewicz noted even after the Council approves ordinance changes, she cannot go on line to make the changes in the versions posted on the web site. The company that did the last ordinance updates has them copyrighted, she said. The ordinance updates were done by Municipal Code Corporation in 2010, and several times committees have expressed concern because the city cannot make changes in their on-line ordinances without going through that company.
There was discussion about the number of fishermen using River Recreational Park during the walleye run. Schmidt said she was happy to see the fishermen there, but concerned about the amount of refuse lying around. She suggested they should put out garbage receptacles, chained down so they dont end up in the river. She said trash includes a lot of fishing line and other things hazardous to wild life.
Behnke suggested they also put up signs encouraging fishermen to take their trash with them when they leave, or at least to use the receptacles. He said it seems silly to have to remind people, but in other places it has helped.
Zahn said some of the trash along the river bank actually came out of the river. Fishermen have retrieved things like old window screen, old tires, and miscellaneous trash washed away by the high waters. They clean them off their hooks and toss them ashore.
Schmidt said in walking along the park trails she saw lots of downed branches, it looked like a brush hog had gone through. She asked Zahn if he had been with the snowmobile club people when they cleared their trail through the woods.
Zahn said he had not, but he had walked the route with them. They had asked him what to do with the trees and brush. They will go back and clean it up if thats what the committee wants.
Schmidt suggested they had cut a wider trail than the space needed for two snowmobiles to pass. That should be a natural area, she declared. She was concerned about stumps left sticking up for people to trip over. She said next time the snowmobile club clears the trail Zahn should be there.
Zahn said as to appearance, theres a big difference between walking through the park now than in summer.
Malke also mentioned tripping over things on the trail, and wondered if the snowmobile club will help clean it up.
Council will be asked to approve a letter to Integrys Business Support, LLC, requesting easement needed to access the proposed fish viewing platform in River Recreational park behind the BPM, Inc. paper mill. Zahn said Integrys says the city needs to make the request, rather than BPM, Inc. He had a copy of a letter from Jim Koronkiewicz, BPM, Inc. General manager, to Patricia Van Den Elzen of Integrys real estate services, stating that before any further discussions can occur, it needs to be confirmed, in a documented letter to Integrys and the WDNR, that the City of Peshtigo will support the conditions he outlined.
Those conditions, he said, are the result of several conversations with Ed Brandt of WPS and the WDNR. Brandt has some aerial photos with proposed blacktopping. There would be no changes to the current recreational facilities or parking lots for the river walk. Elevation of the fish viewing platform could be as high as, or higher than the previous pipe tunnel. Jim Koronkiewicz said BPM, Inc. supports No Fishing from the walkway, and that it is strictly a viewing platform.
Koronkiewicz letter said once the city letter is completed the city would determine the path to secure an easement from Integrys for the access area to the walkway, and if an easement is granted it would be the citys responsibility to confirm final construction plan and timeline.
Zahns question was who should write the letter on behalf of the city.
Malke said she fully agrees that there should be no fishing allowed from the viewing platform, and suggested that Zahn start with Spangenberg to draft a letter requesting a long-term lease agreement.
Schmidt wondered if former Mayor Al Krizenesky is continuing to work with the Ad Hoc Committee he established to help create the viewing platform. Malke said aldermen had not been invited to participate in that group. The committee suggested Krizenesky might agree to continue working with the committee.
Zahn said he is the coordinator for the project, and in conversations with Koronkiewicz they had decided not to seek grants this year, in which case there will be no construction until next year. Malke agreed with that. She said in a recent visit to the Green Bay DNR office she learned the current cycle for grant applications ends May 1, so there was no way they could have submitted a grant in time.
Behnke moved to have Zahn draft a letter confirming the conditions outlined by Koronkiewicz and then have Spangenberg look it over before submitting it for Council approval. Action is expected at the May 6 Council meeting. Behnke commented if they dont move forward promptly they will not be ready for next years grant cycle.
Next on the agenda was a recap of this years Easter Egg Hunt. Schmidt said the event went well, considering the weather, and turnout was great. However, the $2 tickets had included breakfast - which consisted of milk, coffee, orange juice and sweet rolls, and unfortunately they had run out of donuts, partly because of the good turnout. Some people had expected a complete breakfast, including eggs. There were suggestions that next year the tickets should specify Continental Breakfast.
Schmidt suggested charging perhaps $3 or $4 next year and include a complete breakfast. Lock felt that would be fine for families with one child, but might be difficult for those with several children. Behnke suggested a maximum charge per family. Marquardt declared the event is to be fun, not a money maker. Malke said it should at least break even. Lock pledged that any organization in the city would help cover costs, at least as long as Im a member.
Zahn said the school was the perfect place to hold the event. He said he thanked bike donors on line, in the newspaper and on face book. He was told next year to also have signs at the event naming the donors. Zahn and Marquardt agreed you learn from every event. There were suggestions to get a bunny costume for next year, and promote Breakfast with the Easter Bunny.
Zahn said the summer activities schedule is nearly complete and he is waiting for confirmation from one instructor. Malke felt he should set the summer schedule earlier next year, so people can plan their summers.
Zahn reported the new Badger Park Campground host has arrived and is living at the park in site 20, and the host sign is being prepared by Iconic Etching. He said water is frozen between the street to the park meter, so lack of water is a problem.
Fishing is extremely popular in Peshtigo this spring. Zahn believes launch income so far is up 60 percent over last year.
He has encountered a problem with electricity to some camp sites, and feels one of the new lines may have a nick. He will check with a high-tech meter City Engineer George Cowell has as soon as the ground dries. Lock said if the citys meter doesnt work she has one that might. If the line does need to be dug up and replaced cost could be $2,000 to $3,000, so they are holding off on installing the concrete cooking pad for the large pavilion.
Zahn reported the Finance Committee put bids for the beefed up park security system on hold until they find out how much money is available. Meanwhile, the two boys who caused a large amount of damage late last year have still neither made restitution nor written the court-ordered letter of apology. There was talk of an order for them to do work in the park as well. The committee declared, and Zahn fully agreed, that they should be allowed to do that only if they are being supervised by a Marinette County employee or their parents. Other than that, the young vandals are forbidden to enter any of the citys parks.
Schmidt said she would like Parks and Recreation Department employees to wear official shirts while on duty, particularly when directing activities. Zahn said he bought some nice shirts at low cost and will have Parks and Recreation patches sewn on before the summer season starts.
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