The installation of playground equipment in or near Fennimore’s Foxmoor Park is closer to being a reality than ever before thanks to a donation from the Fennimore Kiwanis Club.
Fennimore Kiwanis Club treasurer Barb Scanlan told the Fennimore Common Council’s Cemetery, Buildings, Property and Recreation Committee during its meeting Thursday morning, Aug. 13 the Club is prepared to donate $9,000 to the effort.
“Three years ago we didn’t have a group willing to put a big chunk into the project, so there hasn’t been any conversation since that,” City Clerk/Treasurer Margaret Sprague said.
The installation of playground equipment in Foxmoor Park was a hot topic in “The City on the Move” almost three years ago. When the Council met at the Park to consider a location for the equipment in September 2012, 13 neighbors attended and many voiced their displeasure.
When the Council weighed the matter again the following April, it received a petition signed by 94 individuals requesting the playground equipment be placed in Foxmoor Park.
A public hearing concerning the oft-discussed playground equipment was attended by 30 people in May 2013. The Council took no action on the matter.
One Park neighbor vowed during the public hearing to remove the playground equipment if it was installed near their home. Another claimed they would install a barbed-wire fence to keep children off their property.
The Cemetery, Buildings, Property and Recreation Committee voted unanimously in June 2013 to allow playground equipment installed in the Park, if funds for the purchase of new equipment were raised.
Two years later, the Kiwanis Club has given the fundraising effort a shot in the arm.
Where the playground equipment may be located is still to be determined.
“Another site has been brought up just south of 16th Street, there is that little piece there,” Mayor Charles Stenner said.
“There is a little corner there that has trees, it would be shaded area and could be a possible place for putting that.”
Stenner told the Committee it would be prudent to install a fence along Sanders Creek if the playground equipment was installed south of 16th Street.
“That is a heavily vegetated area that we would want to keep kids out of,” he said. “If they got down there you wouldn’t be able to see them. It would be better off just to fence it.”
Stenner pointed out a location in Foxmoor Park would be farther from streets, but would lack the shade provided in the 16th Street location.
“Down there, is that going to be more out of sight, out of mind?” Committee member David Streif asked.
“I am just throwing it out there because it was brought to our attention that could be possibly used for that,” Stenner said of the 16th Street location.
Committee member Sara Brodt asked if a location in Marsden Park was still being considered.
“Oh sure. This is just another idea,” Stenner answered. “Personally, my feeling is it would be nice to have it away from the street. That one is a nice lot, you have nice shade trees and everything, but it is right on the street.”
Director of Public Works Dennis Biddick told the Committee the City owns a lot near 18th Street where wastewater treatment plant sludge ponds were once located, but that was met with little enthusiasm.
“You have to understand that we have money that has been designated for this from Kiwanis and it is designated for Foxmoor Park,” Stenner said.
Scanlan told the Committee she did not have an issue with the proposed 16th Street location.
“That one, I don’t see a problem with it,” she said. “Right around that area there are quite a few little kids.”
Sprague said playground equipment with an approximate $12,000 price tag has been considered.
A 30’ x 50’ area in Foxmoor Park was previously identified as a possible home for the playground equipment by former Director of Public Works John Murphy. The area is on the east side of the creek that runs through the park.
Brodt asked if a 30’ x 50’ area is still being considered.
“It all depends on the particular equipment you pick out, as far as the footprint goes,” Biddick said. “Until you pick out the equipment you don’t know what the size is.”
Biddick told the Committee grants are available from playground equipment distributors.
“They are 50 percent grants,” he said. “It is a little leg work applying for the grant, but you can double your dollars by doing that.”
Stenner said the project could be completed by 2016.
“Do you think if this is all a go there might be more in the community that will say, ‘Hey, I will put money toward this?’” Scanlan asked. “I think once we get it going there might be more.”
“It would be nice,” Stenner replied.
“Maybe the Knights of Columbus might kick in if they knew we needed an extra thousand or $1,500,” Sprague added. “Maybe the Optimists.”
Biddick said one variable to consider when choosing the size of the playground equipment is what may happen at the site in coming years.
“Another thing to consider is looking at a piece of equipment, putting it in a particular spot, what about future growth” he said. “Is that going to be the only thing that happens in that area? Or are you going to consider, well this is just the first piece and maybe five years from now you might want to add.”
“So we really haven’t targeted a specific area, other than the area that we went and looked at previously,” Brodt said. “So what we want to do is be looking at that and then coming back with a recommendation?”
“The thing to do is to set up something where we get an idea as to the size of the equipment you want so that we know what space we are going to need for it, and future thoughts, and then see what is sitting there that is usable for that type of thing,” Stenner said.
“So there will be a park, somewhere?” Scanlan asked. “So then I know. Because I have the money, I just want to make sure before I write out the check that there is going to be a park.”
“That is the Committee’s decision and the Council, I think we have always leaned that way,” Stenner answered. “That is what we wanted to see done.”
Brodt voiced her approval for the project.
“I don’t have a problem at all having a park,” she said. “I think it is a great idea. We have got a lot of kids up there.
“I am just unclear as to where it is going to be. We can say we want to have a park all day, but where? That is the problem.”
Stenner warned the location of the playground equipment will likely be met with opposition, regardless of where it is located.
“So it gets down to a point where what is in the City’s best interest?” he said. “That is what the Committee and the Council have to decide. You might not like it here, but this is where it is going.”
“So we end up deciding where the best location is based on accessibility, public safety and future expansion, etcetera?” Brodt asked. “We need a road trip.”
The Committee hopes to schedule a future meeting when the Council meets on Monday, Aug. 24.