Commission identifies park priorities

-Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Kelby Wingert

The Webster City Parks and Recreation Commission identified several immediate priorities at East Twin Park that can be addressed in the near future, and also discussed some long term project ideas during a special meeting at Fuller Hall on Thursday evening.

“Tonight is to kind of sit down, see where some priorities are, look at the master plan that that the Iowa students did and come up with a game plan with some of the particular funding that we have received,” said Chris Kehoe, a member of the commission.

In 2018 and 2019, a group of students from the University of Iowa’s School of Urban and Regional Planning worked with the city to come up with a Master Plan for the city Parks and Recreation Department. Its purpose is to “increase the usage opportunities provided by the Webster City Parks and Recreation system by reimagining, enhancing and promoting the available assets, resources and activities in and around the community.”

The Webster City Parks and Recreation Master Plan created by students from the University of Iowa’s School of Urban and Regional Planning is available in PDF form on the front page of the City of Webster City website.

Some of the immediate priorities at East Twin Park that the commission and the dozen community members who attended the meeting talked about were getting new backboards for the basketball hoops and painting the park shelter.

The commission also discussed updates to the skateboard park, including replacing some of the boards, repainting the ramps and modifying or taking down the chainlink fence that runs around it.

Lindsay Henderson, community vitality director, noted that when the skateboard park was built, they weren’t very common in Iowa and the city had chosen to enclose the area with fencing, possibly as a safety precaution, but that might not be necessary now.

“They’re popular enough now that we can make it feel more welcoming and attractive, because right now it does kind of look like a prison yard,” she said.

Local business owner Mary Fortune has set up a Facebook group called Webster City Twin Parks Revitalization Committee, aimed to encourage community support and participation in the park projects. She addressed the commission during Thursday’s meeting.

“My main priority in meeting with this commission and with the rec department is to let you know that this group that I started is not going to run over you guys or anybody,” she said. “You guys are the lead here and I wanted to make sure we met with you and found out what your plan is and what your timeline is and your priorities are, also what you have in your budget in 2020 to put in Twin Parks.”

Kehoe said that right now, the city has been focusing on West Twin Park to finish the new shelter there and new restrooms, and at the moment there isn’t anything budgeted specifically for capital improvement projects at East Twin Park.

However, fundraising efforts have already been under way to make improvements at East Twin Park.

When improvements begin, Fortune said she would like to see community involvement in the actual work itself.

“I want the children and the families involved in this so they have ownership in this park, and then they will take care of it,” she said.

One of the subjects that comes up around the topic of East Twin Park is a splashpad. Kehoe said before Kent Harfst, the late Recreation and Public Grounds Director, passed away last fall, Harfst had done research into splashpads.

“One of the biggest concerns that he had is most splashpads, you have to decide if you want recycled water,” Kehoe said. Or the alternative is to use upwards of two to three million gallons of water each summer season that will just go down the wastewater system.

Before the city can move forward with any plans for a splashpad, it must weigh the options and the costs, Kehoe said, meaning that a splashpad is likely not in the immediate future of the park.

Other topics discussed at the meeting were the options of bringing back a tennis court to the park, purchasing new playground equipment and resurfacing the basketball court.

The next Parks and Recreation Commission meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 18 at Fuller Hall.


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