With three new members seated, the Pacific Park Board is set to conclude several projects that have dragged on due to lack of a quorum, according to Stephen Flannery, board president.
Flannery welcomed new members Craig Moore and John Gildehaus, and welcomed back returning member Donna Williams, saying the park board is an important board that provides a vital service to the community.
“It was a very cool thing to have the entire nine-member park board here,” Flannery said.
Speaking at the Sept. 10 meeting, Flannery launched an ambitious plan to complete proposals to update fees and forms for park use, assist with the city’s first fenced dog run, participate in the creation of a new city comprehensive plan, participate in the city tourism commission’s rebranding of Pacific project and selecting a parks capital improvement project from among many needed.
“All these things play a role in how people use our parks,” he said. “It’s our job to improve the quality of life in Pacific by making use of the parks as enjoyable as possible.”
The park board oversees the condition and use of the city park pavilions, swimming pool, tennis courts, athletic fields, children’s play area and annex playing fields south of Brush Creek, Liberty Field and its soccer fields and equestrian area, Blackburn Park, which has gained renewed use with the placement of a replica Civil War cannon, Adam’s Garden at the base of Blackburn Park, as well as portions of the undeveloped tracts that were bought by the city following the 2008 flood.
Flannery said the park system makes up a city-within-a-city and provide gathering places for athletic leagues, company picnics, family reunions, as well as daily walkers and joggers.
“It is my dream,” he said, “that we will some day see a full-time parks and recreation director.”
Overseeing the parks and their improvements is a task that sometimes stretches the abilities of a part-time appointed board, he said.
“The people who use the city parks want everything maintained from public restrooms to athletic fields turf,” he said. “It’s not just the obvious things.”
The park board is currently examining lighting on the basketball courts, health and species of all city owned trees, need for a pavilion on Blackburn Park, a proposed veterans walk in Liberty Field, a dog walk in city park and the need for restrooms in Liberty Field.
Pat Smiley, Pacific Soccer Association (PSA) organizer, is spearheading the veterans walk project that will install granite markers along the paved trail that circles Liberty Field. Markers will honor veterans in every armed conflict from the American Revolution to current conflicts.
Boy Scout Dillon Patton, Villa Ridge, is organizing a fenced dog walk as an Eagle Scout project. This becomes the fourth Eagle Scout project in the parks, following signs on the athletic field, a walking trail around the fishing pond and the replica Civil War cannon.
The Scout’s responsibility is to raise funds to construct a chain link fence around the dog walk, select the location in the park and oversee the installation of the project.
“It’s our job to support these projects,” Flannery said.
Each year the city includes a line item in the budget that enables the park board to complete one capital project. This year the board has been allocated $20,000 for capital improvements.
In recent years, major improvements in the parks have included improving the horse corral in Librty Field and new children’s playground equipment in the city park.
“Last year we didn’t do a capital project and I feel bad about that,” Flannery said. “This year we have $20,000 and I want to see us focus on that, select a project and see it through.”
Among items discussed for improvement during the current fiscal year, July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, include lighting the basketball park, strengthening the bridge over Brush Creek and clearing undergrowth along Brush Creek to create visibility of the park ares on the south side of the creek.
In Blackburn Park, installing binoculars so visitors can enjoy the panoramic view of the Meramec River Valley, building a pavilion and public restrooms, also have been discussed.
In Liberty Field, rebuilding the soccer field turf, constructing a wall for practice kicks, and building public restrooms, are other needs.
Carol Johnson noted that a recent soccer tournament filled the park with soccer teams and supporters.
“There were over 1,000 people down there,” Johnson said. “The portable bathrooms are not enough.”
Rob Arnold agreed.
“I take my two daughters to play soccer and we always say, ‘Go to the bathroom before you go,’ ” Arnold said. “Even then they still have to go before we leave and there’s always a long line.”
Some items that were previously discussed but not acted on need to be brought back up, Flannery noted, including signs for the children’s playground area and extra mulch beneath playground equipment.
“I take my niece down there and she can’t reach the bottom rung on the ladder,” Matt Vickers said.
While Liberty Field restrooms are important, they have to be weighed against needs in all the parks, Flannery noted.
“We have to choose from among all these needs,” he said, “and if the cost runs a bit over the $20,000, I’ll be glad to go to city hall and make the case. We will present quality plans where there is no room to say no.”
Brad Reed, aldermanic liaison to the park, suggested that the fall of the year may not be the best time to ask for money.
“If you ask in the fall and get turned down don’t get scared,” Reed said. “In the fall there is not much money, but in the spring people pay their taxes and we have more money.”
There are other ways to complete capital projects, according to Flannery.
“In the fall we could use a little sweat equity on projects like the bathrooms in Liberty Field.
The park board meets at 6 p.m. the second Monday of the month in the senior center. Beginning in October, all city government meetings will be held in the new city hall.