Our investment, their future.

As you may have seen recently, the Richmond Parks and Recreation board approved a resolution to move forward with spending $1 million on much-needed equipment, vehicles and projects in Richmond parks.

It is a lot of money but, as a member of the park board, I agreed with the decision. There is a need for replacing equipment and vehicles, ones that have been in use for 10 years or more. And there are other maintenance, compliance and beautification projects that will keep our parks in the best shape possible for years to come.

In my view, this is the type of foresight and planning that is necessary for dealing with the upkeep of our parks. Investments like these will ensure that your kids and grandkids will enjoy the same quality of parks that my kids did. Listen some time to the peals of laughter at the Cordell Pool, the fascination of JUKO field trips, the screams of enjoyment at playgrounds from Glenn Miller to Middlefork, Springwood Lake to Clear Creek. It’s obvious. Our kids are worth the investment.

But the process is not done. The park board has only approved a resolution to move forward with the plan. A public hearing will be held on the issue at its April 11 meeting and the final decision will, of course, will come from the Richmond Common Council. Council will also hold a public hearing on the question, presumably at its April 15 meeting.

The plan, as you may have read, is to secure a $750,000 four-year bond to purchase mowers, a skid loader and trailers for the parks, air conditioners for the senior center, dock floats at Middlefork Reservoir, a new slide and other work at Cordell Pool, along with a retaining wall in Starr Park and tree removal along Glen Miller Park.

That bond will replace a bond that expires later this year and the plan is to keep the tax rate the same — 1.5 to 2 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Another $178,000 will be spent on equipment for Highland Lake Golf Course from a cash balance in the park fund. Again, park officials will be replacing equipment that has been in use for more than 10 years. It includes a variety of mowers, vehicles and other equipment.

We in Richmond have a park system that is a point of pride for our community and a parks department that labors throughout the year to provide facilities and programming for every citizen.

If we are going to have parks we have to take care of them. Same with a pool, golf course, senior center and baseball stadium. We will have ongoing maintenance, beautification and compliance needs. They are our parks and we must protect them.

That’s why we have to plan critically and think strategically about the parks and every other department in the city. What do our parks need? How can we afford it? How can we make it the best park system it can be and keep it that way?

Park staff is beginning work on a five-year master plan, which is essential to the ongoing operation of our park system. Community partnerships, as in the past, are vital, as is an effort to find funding and support on a state and national level.

Mayor Snow has been a strong supporter of the parks department over the last three years and I hope that mayoral support continues in the years to come. I encourage all of you to join in our ongoing effort to make the Richmond park system a thing of community pride.

As always, if you have thoughts, suggestions or ideas please let me know.

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