City brushes off aid for parks study

Warren City Council didn’t have the appetite to pursue a grant that would have paid for half of a $80,000 comprehensive plan for city parks and trails.

But they chewed on the concept for a while at a recent council meeting.

City Planner David Hildebrand said that city staff was interested in putting in an application through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that would have paid for $40,000 of the total.

The rest would have been the responsibility of the city.

“The city has a large number of active parks, passive parks (and an) ongoing discussion of trails connecting the parks,” Hildebrand said. He explained that the city has much information on those places but the most recent plan for the parks was drafted in 1997.

“DCNR is in favor of this type of (plan) layout,” Hildebrand said.

DCNR might be, but council was not.

Mayor Mark Phillips alleged that the process was “consultants looking for work” and “bureaucracy at its finest.”

Hildebrand said that the state supports this initiative “for communities so communities have a good point forward into the future.”

Council Vice President Maurice Cashman said that the property committee a committee established late last year and tasked with the job of reviewing the status of all city-owned properties including parks will meet this month.

“Parks will be the main focus,” he added, proposing that it be tabled until after the committee meets. “If we believe a comprehensive study should be made” this issue could be revisited.

Hildebrand said that the grant has a April 10 deadline. “Consultants are experts in this field,” he added.

“I don’t think the city is in good enough financial shape (to pay $40,000) for park improvements that we might not be able to execute,” Councilman Sam Harvey said.

Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ann Nau said that she “believes in the parks” and views city parks as a service available to all regardless of economic status.

Councilman John Lewis said that if the grant resulted in a new bike trail or playground, it might be worthwhile. “Other than a recommendation, (we’re) not getting anything from it,” he said

“(It) makes us more attractive for grants,” Nau said, noting that funding is not included in the budget. “We’re being kind of reactive at the moment.”

The application died as no motion was made.