This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The future of the parks

On Thursday afternoon members of the park board, the trustees of the Blacker Trust, city officials, representatives of the Jasper Foundation, and one nosy citizen gathered to hear a presentation about funding park improvements. The Blacker Trust has hired a fundraising organization based in Madison, IN, I did not catch the name, but it is the same organization that aided the hospital in raising funds for their cancer treatment center that was part of the hospital expansion.

The speaker was an older gentleman who reminded those present of the current plan, which is a three phase plan of constructing two baseball fields and enlarging the south parking lot at Brookside Park, moving the basketball court and redoing the north parking lot, and building a concession building and redoing the bathrooms. That project had been bid and the bid came back at $800,000. The amount that the Blacker Trust and the Jasper Foundation were prepared to commit was $600,000. He suggested that if the community was going to do a project, it should consider a bigger project, one that people want and will support. In particular, he suggested adding three more items: a dog park, an interactive fountain in Milroy Park, and soccer fields in the Staddon Park area. The total cost would be approximately $1,350,000, which was an amount that he thought the community could afford. (He was a very good speaker and my summary does not do justice to his presentation.) He was aware that there are issues involved in the Staddon Field property, which is assessed at $90,000 but which the School Board is willing to sell for a mere $300,000.

His company would do a feasibility study to  learn what the community would donate and what it would support. He suggested a timeline that would have preliminary interviewing ending in June, then two or three months to prepare a campaign, with the campaign starting late in 2015 and ending in the spring of 2016. Actual construction would begin in 2016.

The speaker then invited each of the people attending, even the nosy citizen, to ask questions. People on the Park Board and members of the Park Corporation seemed to be offended by the interactive fountain idea because they had not heard of it before. (It apparently came from the Mainstreet group.) There was concern about the condition of LaRue Pool, which is old and may need repairs but which was not included in the proposal, and about the soccer field, which is heavily used. It was noted that the Staddon Field area is zoned residential and has bedrock within three feet of the surface, limiting its potential use if put on the open market. At the very end someone in attendance who I did not know pointed out that the master plan for the park was out of date and thus the park was not eligible for state or federal grants. The Park Board said that they would get a revision ready.

I was impressed with the presenter and think that his involvement is the best bet to overcome the many disagreements of the local parties. There is a follow-up meeting planned for Monday the 21st, which cannot happen since the 21st is a Tuesday. I have other plans for Tuesday afternoon so I will not be there. After the meeting the members of the Park Corporation held a meeting but I did not stay because it was my past supper time.

This morning (Friday) the city hosted what hopefully will be one of the last Common Construction Wage hearings. The meeting was short (about five minutes long) and adopted the state AFL-CIO scale wages for the construction of the fire house. Economists who have studied economic regulation have found that much (or most or almost all) of it is designed to protect special interests, mostly by preventing entry and competition. The Common Construction Wage is a good illustration. It protects union labor and contractors who use union labor from being undercut by non-union labor.

After the meeting I checked out the start of the rummage sale. The many people there must have made the school drop-off more congested than usual. (The schools had a two-hour fog delay this morning.)

The sale concludes Saturday at noon. There is still a lot of stuff and it is very cheap (fill a bag of any size for $1.00.)


Anonymous said...

Its kind of silly(for lack of a better word) that they are so insistent on adding yet another dog park since we have one that was just made that i have never seen anyone use. There are so many kids,and adults, who ride skateboards,roller skate, roller blade, ride bikes, etc. In the middle of the road and on the uneven sidewalks. What we need is a skate park in order for them to have a safe place to do these things. Morocco has a skatepark that the town put in because, very regretably, a child was hit by a car while skateboarding and was killed. At least thats what has been told. Every day in town i see kids in the street who neglect to pay attention to traffic. It would be so much safer to have a place they can go. A petition was passed around town a few years ago to get one put in that recieved 300+ signatures but it was still neglected and ignored. This is all just my personal opinion but if that many people in this town think its a good idea it should at least be discussed in meetings.

Anonymous said...

I second the skate park idea. Half of these sidrwalks are dangerous, broken and uneven and is not safe to walk ley alone ride bikes, so these kids ride in the streets.

Anonymous said...

Appraised for $90,000.00 and school board wants $300,000.00!?! A mere $300,000.00!?! That is crazy!!!!

reMark said...

Please check your facts. The amounts slated from the School Board are grossly inaccurate. This merits a fair representation of both sides.

Ryan said...

Actually, the common construction wage is positive, in my opinion. It ensures that the job gets done right by well trained individuals. Unlike private projects which will make sure the best contractor gets hired, public projects have to take the lowest bid and repealing the common construction wage would allow contractors to hire poorly trained and underpaid workers to complete a project. This can actually run up costs in the long-run as projects take longer, injuries are more likely, etc. Moreover, out of state workers on a project can still be paid a prevailing wage (especially foreign workers) even after a CCW repeal, meaning Indiana workers are the ones to lose out. This is an especially important concern after Indiana has had a precipitous decline in wages/incomes, especially among construction workers.

Anonymous said...

Municipalities are not required to take the lowest bidder for projects greater in value than $150,000.

Indiana Code 36-1-12-4

Bidding procedures for projects costing more than certain amounts
Sec. 4. (a) This section applies whenever the cost of a public work project will be:
(1) except as provided in subdivision (2), at least one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000); or


(8) Except as provided in subsection (c), the board shall:
(A) award the contract for public work or improvements to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder; or
(B) reject all bids submitted.
(9) If the board awards the contract to a bidder other than the lowest bidder, the board must state in the minutes or memoranda, at the time the award is made, the factors used to determine which bidder is the lowest responsible and responsive bidder and to justify the award. The board shall keep a copy of the minutes or memoranda available for public inspection.