TROY — After two hours of discussion on Monday, both the park and recreation boards gave their support, followed by the park and recreation council committee, to move forward with positive recommendations for a November ballot initiative for proposed Duke Park improvements.
Members of the park board included president Alan Kappers and member Susan Westfall. The recreation board included president Marty Hobart and members Tom Dunn and Ashley Reed, with member Doug Jackson attending, but left prior to the end of the meeting.
Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Brock Heath and members John Twilliger and Robin Oda also supported to proceed with the initiative, which will be presented to council as an emergency. Council must vote on the proposal twice to prior to the Aug. 7 election filing deadline.
The total cost for the proposed park improvements is around $12 million. In a memo to Troy City Council, president Marty Baker, Mayor Michael Beamish recommended $5 million of the project to be funded by the city’s general fund, $3 million to be financed by bonds and the remaining $4 million to be funded by a 10-year 1.2-mill property tax levy to be placed on the Nov. 5, 2019 ballot. According to city auditor John Frigge, if passed, the levy would cost $40 a year for a $100,000 property.
The city recently released its proposed additions to Duke Park, which include six baseball and softball fields, an 18-hole miniature golf course, three soccer fields and a splash pad. Other proposed components include a new park maintenance building and concession/storage areas in the central part of Duke Park. The soccer fields and another park entrance would be added to the south.
Mayor Beamish said, “It’s never been a secret during my tenure as mayor that I’ve always listed recreation as one of our priorities for our city. This initiative that is being presented is for the youth of Troy, specifically, as well as how it benefits families of Troy.”
Beamish said Duke Park is a place for growth and would alleviate the Troy Junior Baseball baseball field flood issues at Knoop Fields on County Road 25-A.
Beamish said the addition of a splash pad and miniature golf course would also add activities to Duke Park and add to the economic impact to the city through tournaments, both soccer and baseball, to Troy.
Troy Junior Baseball board president Steve Mascarella said while the addition of five baseball fields and one T-ball field would help their organization, they would have to continue to use the Knoop complex due to the volume of games being scheduled. Mascarella said they would entertain the option to help maintain the fields such as striping, field preparation and assist with its mowing, which is contracted. Mascarella said the complex has been flooded six times in seven years, with the December 2013 flood being the worst for the eight field complex. Mascarella said other issues such as umpires (youth umpires) and how they would get to and from games would be an issue. Mascarellalso noted baseball tournaments wouldn’t likely be a draw to Troy since there are tournaments every weekend one to two hours away and tournaments would be more beneficial to soccer organizations.
President of city council Marty Baker said the organization does a fantastic job with their fields and their location despite its flood issues. Baker asked council and city staff to consider adding more baseball fields to move the organization away from Knoop Fields entirely. Baker also noted the city levy would be competing with a Troy City Schools 5.9-mill renewal and Upper Valley Career Center’s new levy as well. Baker later said she would like to see the city “to go the extra mile “to add more baseball fields to the initiative now, rather than later, to “do it right and do it once.”
Park superintendent Jeremy Drake said it would be hard to guess what kind of maintenance issues would arise from the additional amenities such as the splash pad and mini golf course. Drake said park employees split their time going back and forth to Duke Park and the maintenance barn at Hobart Arena, so a centrally located facility for operations would be more efficient. Drake said more parking and another entrance would be welcomed due to the volume of activity at the park. Drake also noted more soccer fields would allow even play on the fields so they could let fields “rest” and not be overplayed and worn down.
Council member Bobby Phillips said he would have to have outside organizations to “step up big” in order to have his support for the initiative. Council member John Schweser said he supports the proposal overall, but is concerned using general funds to pay for the bulk of the project. At-large council members Bill Lutz and Todd Severt also gave their support for the proposal.
Kappers also later noted more details, if the levy passes, would be ironed out with memorandums with involved organizations. He also requested a proforma for the mini-golf course, modeled after one located at St. Marys and is operated by the city. Kappers said he does support the addition to the city’s parks and noted he’d like to continue to keep the parks “ad free” without advertising signage “littering” the parks. Park board member Susan Westfall also said she was concerned with the location of the proposed amenities such as the splash pad near the dog park. Westfall said she thought the addition of a splash pad and mini-golf would be great family activities to add to Duke Park.
Director of public service and safety Patrick Titterington fielded questions regarding specifics of the proposed features of the Duke Park improvements. The splash pad, which many residents requested through a park survey conducted last fall, would vary by size, features such as jets and infrastructures, could vary from basic to elaborate components, he said. A resident asked if a roundabout would be added to Riverside Drive and Staunton Road due to an increase in traffic. Titterington said the city was still exploring its options at the intersection, which includes a roundabout, but also a traditional stop light. He said consideration would also include Hobart Arena and Troy City Schools’ traffic and options were still being explored at this time.
Heath noted the proposal included the addition of one park laborer and one recreation attendant. Other comments included that the miniature golf course would likely be manned by high school or college students during the summer as well as other attendants during school hours in the early spring and late fall.
Resident Cynthia Schaefer asked if Riverside Drive would need to be expanded, which Titterington reported the road will be widened, but will not need more lanes. Schaefer also asked about the Miracle League ball field. Phillips noted the initiative was to be privately financed, but the organization wasn’t able to find the support it needed since it was proposed several years ago.
Resident Chris Davis said he’d like to see more bathrooms to be added to other parks. He also noted he was on a fixed income and $40 per year would likely increase rents from landlords. Resident Josh Rindler said he was researching loans and business plans to build a miniature golf course and possibly a go-kart track in Troy near Walmart. He said if the city was to add one, he’d likely have to abandon his business plans because he didn’t think residents could support two mini golf courses in Troy.
Resident Lester Conard said the city should build the baseball fields first and then proceed with the mini golf and splash pad amenities later. Conard said taxes in Troy continue to climb and may force people away from the city instead of attracting them to Troy.
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