Parks & Recreation, Good Old Boys and $76,000.00

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Now that the little matter of the $7.5 million dollar budget has been cleared up, it’s time to turn our attention to the recreational season. 

Yes, folks, summer is just around the corner and it will be time to get the piers out at Prairie Creek,  Tuhey Pool open and Canan Commons off the ground and ready for outdoor fun.

But, that’s not all.  Muncie City was awarded $150,000.00 in grant money to build a mountain bike trail and eventually extend the trail from  Cardinal Greenway to Prairie Creek campgrounds.   This will be interesting to watch and view the progress.  Let’s hope the weather holds out and we can get it completed in a timely manner and within cost.

Prairie Creek has been able to turn a profit for two years and we expect that to continue.  Currently, there is a fair amount of money in the revolving fund for improvements and maintenance.  Our new assistant superintendent of Prairie Creek is Ivan Gregory the Monroe township trustee and volunteer fireman..  There is nothing about him on the Muncie City website so I can’t list his qualifications.

Prairie Creek had a proposed budget of $548,000 in 2011.  The estimated amount of revenue in 2011 was $546,000.00.  The revenue doesn’t include property taxes, grants or donations.  I am using the 2011 proposed budget, so the figures may be off slightly, not enough to quibble about, though.

Prairie Creek is one of the city parks that has the ability to generate significant revenue.  It never did, and in 2007 the park needed an additional $140,000.00 in tax revenue just to keep it afloat.  In 2008 it was roughly $84,000.00 and in 2009, the park for the first time in nearly 40 years, was self-sustaining. 

2009 was the year Muncie City Council introduced LOIT (Local Option Income Tax).  After the budget presentations, the zeal for the additional tax died.   I look for it to return after the 2012 election, though.

Next big summer park opening will be Tuhey Pool for its second season.   For nearly two years, Tuhey Pool had been closed due to a Federal mandate to upgrade the drains. 

The process of draining the pool for the upgrade revealed significant damage and the funds were not available to repair the pool. (The pool was shut down for several years in the ’70’s.)

For the two years Tuhey wasn’t open,  a handful of people (one of which wasn’t even a Muncie citizen) complained about the closure of the pool.  Once Tuhey was up and better than before, they complained about the opening.   Mad when it was closed and mad when it was opened.  Weird.   The finishing touches to Tuhey Commons Phase 1 was done late last year to include new playground equipment and a parking lot. 

 Dennis Tyler seemed perplexed as to why Mayor Sharon McShurley paved the lot at the end of the season.  Had the lot not been paved during the last months of the McShurley administration who knows if would have ever been completed.  Councilman Sam Marshall attempted to pull the utilities budget from the pool which would have delayed if not closed the pool for 2012.     

Canan Commons, a park located in the downtown area came with some baggage.  The land being purchased for a goodly price sat dormant until the Federal government informed the city,  the money was still available to build a park.  After the funds were secured and a push to raise  $300,000.00 in private money for  stage was completed, the park is now scheduled be open this summer.

Last year, Heekin Park unveiled the Walk of Fame and it’s a “must see” for young and old alike. 

Altogether Muncie has a pretty impressive parks list and a budget of $1,423,789.00 give or take.

In 2009, Mayor McShurley tasked the  Parks and Recreation superintendent, Doug Zook, to come up with a five-year parks plan.  This plan, if implemented properly, will carry the park department through 2013.  A new five-year master park plan will need to be submitted on or before January 15, 2014.

(Side note: Mr. Zook has recently been appointed as Anderson’s Park Superintendent.  This will give us another avenue in which to gauge the progress of our local park system.  We can monitor the continued success of our parks and compare it to the City of Anderson as well.)

You can’t imagine all the areas a parks department touches.  From natural resources to securing grant money and all points in between.  The newly appointed Parks Superintendent, Harvey Wright, doesn’t have a background conducive to park administration, budgeting or natural resource degree.

  • Harvey Wright, veteran employee of the Delaware County Highway Department and its current garage foreman, was named parks superintendent. Tyler cited Wright’s experience in developing youth sports leagues. (SP 12-23-12)

I am wondering what Dennis Tyler was thinking when he appointed Wright and the only experience  was his ability to develop a sports league.  Tyler used  Hamilton County as an example citing the success of their parks.  Tyler  considered a thriving park systen  an economic development tool.  Sure, but don’t you think you would want someone running the “economic development tool” to have just a tad bit more experience then developing a sports league?. 

Fortunately for the parks department, Muncie has a fairly well-rounded parks board.  So I meandered over to  the City of Muncie website…and holy cow!  The parks board had nearly a complete turn over.  Left on the board is Mary Beth Lambert which,  thank goodness, knows the difference between a weed and a tulip. I say this in jest, as Lambert has a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Carl Malone and Mary Beth are the two last remaining board members.

Gone is  Dr. Amy Gregg, an expert in the field of park planning and natural resources.  Dr. Gregg was instrumental in providing information and guidance in such areas as prairie grasses, natural and native plants.  Wild flowers for planting Muncie Parks

Someone familiar with the park board told me Mayor Dennis Tyler asked the board members to resign.  I don’t know if it is true, but the board has turned over. 

I hope Mayor Tyler  remembers his passionate speech on the importance of a good park system and strives to obtain it.  However, my practical mind says…if you don’t surround yourself with qualified people, you will find your endeavors to be costly and unproductive.    

Delaware County commissioned a study on updating their software system,. The report came back with  a two page or four page (depending on who was asked) recommendation that cost $6,000.00.  The cost is one part of the equation.  The other part would be is there nobody on staff qualified to do this? 

Sunday’s local paper printed an article titled “Two or four page  report cost county $6,000”  prompted me to write this blog.

Since May 2011 Delaware County and Muncie City have spent a combined $76,000 on studies that should have been done in-house.  In other words, instead of hiring friends and campaign supporters with little or no experience, let’s try appointing people with knowledge and expertise in their respected areas.

Good night, Irene.

Tuhey Pool Opening Day 

Walk of Fame Ceremony

2009 Master Parks Plan

Prairie Creek

Previous employees and qualifications

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