Fitness Park hibernating until May

The equipment at a fitness park at DeFrees Park was installed quickly but has since been covered in tarps to restrict use.

The City of Warren Parks and Recreation Commission this week heard an update from city administration regarding the park, including when it might be available for public use.

City Administrator Mary Ann Nau said there are still “some odds and ends to finish up” including “final surfacing of some type.”

She said that she met, along with Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz, last week with the members of the initiative who raised the funding for the equipment. “We talked to them about some details and some particulars,” said Nau. “If everything works out, that should be up and running the end of May.”

“We tried to get them back into a time frame,” said Nau. “They kind of got away from us. They were wanting to break ground and we didn’t even have a signed agreement.”

Actually, an agreement still isn’t in place.

According to a proposed agreement, several steps will have to take place before the park can open.

The agreement states that the Community Mobilization Initiative, the entity comprised of local businesses that has raised funding for the project, will install signage regarding use of the equipment.

Then, “the Outdoor Fitness Park shall be inspected by the Director of the Department of Public Works and the City Engineer and they shall submit their findings to City Council. Once City personnel are satisfied with the surface material and the placement and functionality of the equipment, CMI shall offer the completed Outdoor Fitness Park, as places, to the City as a gift for the benefit of the general public.”

Point seven of the agreement states: “The Outdoor Fitness Park shall not be officially opened until accepted by Warren City Council.”

Once the city is in possession of the park, it will be responsible for maintenance of the park and will receive $5,000 from CMI to help offset maintenance costs for the equipment.

“I think they are stressed in getting all their funding together,” said Nau.

While the original proposal included a poured rubber surface throughout the entire fitness park, Nau said that the amount of rubber surface might be scaled back to “keep it under the equipment itself…. One of the reasons we want it under there… the play equipment is in the same park and if all of us sit here and say the kids are going to use that the way the sign (says), we are kidding ourselves. I want to make sure if they get on the equipment and someone takes a fall that maybe there is a softer surface.”