Of merry-go-rounds and baseball fields
By Anne Thom—
Former Stacy councilor Mel Aslakson and his wife Jeanne sent a letter to the city council asking to be reinstated to the city’s Park and Recreation committee. The Aslaksons also appeared at the Feb. 14 council meeting to speak on their request.
M. Aslakson said that the city needs them. He was concerned that the Park and Rec committee has failed to meet in the last several months.
When Councilor Cindy Bruss introduced the topic of playground equipment, J. Aslakson asked what had happened to the merry-go-round.
Mayor Mark Utecht said the equipment had been removed because the insurance carrier cited it as a danger and a potential litigation issue.
M. Aslakson said that the merry-go-round and the swing set came from the old Stacy school. The equipment has been in Stacy for 40 years.
The Aslaksons were concerned for the historical items.
The mayor admitted he didn’t know if the equipment still existed.
Councilor Jim Ness said that Jerry Schroeder of the Stacy Lions Club has the equipment.
“Why?” asked Councilor Charles Lucia, calling it “memorabilia.”
“Well, because it’s memorabilia,” Ness said.
City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer reminded the council the equipment was removed due to safety issues. He said at this point the city should verify they still own the equipment.
The mayor added, “I don’t remember if the teeter-totter was on the hit list.” It was verified that it was.
Utecht said he didn’t know the park equipment had some sentimental or historic value, “I’m glad to hear it hasn’t already been destroyed, although that was my intent because of what the insurance company said.”
M. Aslakson said other cities have the same type of merry-go-round. Ness noted that the issue was the Stacy merry-go-round was too far off the ground.
There was silence from the council until Mayor Utecht said he understood at the last Park and Rec meeting they had gone off topic.
Aslakason denied this. He said the discussion was over the Lions’ interest in parks and the community needs.
Mayor Utecht said he understood that there was discussion over who would be running for public office this fall.
Utecht continued that while he welcomes the Aslakson’s involvement, he wants to be clear that their participation will surround park and recreation issues, not other city business.
The Aslaksons had a positive suggestion and some good news. M. Aslakson suggested the city send Jackie and David Rausch a thank you acknowledging their civic improvement work. The Rausch’s have been responsible for beautifying several city parks. Aslakson then reported a $5,000 contribution was coming to the Park and Rec from the Lions Club.
The Aslaksons thanked the council and Ness made a motion to appoint them and another former Stacy councilor, Tony Olivolo, to the Park and Rec committee.
“We all know there are personalities in this city but until they demonstrate that the serving is more of a hindrance than a help, I want them to serve,” Utecht said.
He also requested that if there is extraneous discussion, the committee reports it to the council.
A motion was made to appoint the three and it passed unanimously.
A better ball field
Stacy resident Troy Nelson and the Stacy Lions Club would like to bring a state softball tournament to town. The Lions had been turned down previously because the fields were not lit. This has been fixed, the issue now is they are short one playing field.
Nelson said the tournament is scheduled for 2013, they tried for 2012, but the application went in too late. Nelson said this would be as large as Stacy Daze bringing in 30 to 40 softball teams.
Nelson asked if the ball fields adjacent to the Sunrise Mobile Home Park could be brought into shape for a tournament and for parking.
Nelson said the kids are not using the west side fields and the additional field at Doyle is not in playable shape.
Councilor Bruss, as chairperson of Park and Rec committee said, “We don’t have a whole lot in our budget.”
Doyle Field has two playable fields, the west side park has one and the fourth field would be Reiger Park in Lent Township. The city would not need to provide equipment. Nelson said he would use his own bases.
Lucia said the city hasn’t been concerned about the west side field “because nobody used it.”
Nelson wanted a commitment from the city to help out as he already had assistance from the Lions Club and the Stacy-Lent Fire Department. He asked for funds to improve the fields.
“It’s minor stuff, except the mowing of the trees,” Nelson said. “We’re not talking huge numbers. I would just like to see a commitment from the city to have this happen,” he added, saying this event will benefit the whole community.
The Lions have spoken to the owner of the property on the other side of the west ball fields about taking down some trees to facilitate parking cars.
City Clerk Sharon Payne said City Maintenance Supervisor Jon Ehlert has already committed himself to assist. The city doesn’t have equipment to remove tree brush, but can increase the mowing and fertilize the turf.
Councilor Michael Carlson was concerned about access and parking.
Utecht asked how much it would cost to bring the additional field at Lions Park up to specification.
Nelson said he would administer the tournament and that the state softball association would send members to help.
If Doyle field has to be fenced he estimated it could cost more than $10,000 to do so.
The mayor thought it made more sense to improve Doyle field, “I want to make the right decision.” Utecht said. He prefers this site as sufficient parking already exists.
Utecht asked if the tournament itself makes money, concessions aside. Nelson said there is usually a payback for the top two or three teams. The fees fund umpires and the staff to run the tournament. Utecht said, “The money aside, I’m in, but we need to know how much.”
Nelson said he is just looking for a commitment to make it happen.
Lucia said he thinks it is a good idea, but said the city has to figure out which field would benefit the city to upgrade.
Bruss asked about finding a grant to fund this, but Nelson wasn’t sure there would be enough time.
Utecht asked about Legacy funding, “I remember they would cover a wide range of stuff,” he said.
Lucia was hopeful this would lead to an ongoing relationship.
Nelson said, “Once you get your foot in the door they keep coming back.”