After St. Clair Parks and Recreation Board members spent a good portion of their April meeting trying to decide how to best spend some available funds, the board of aldermen made the decision for them when it met for its regular meeting on May 6.

The aldermen opted to spend up to $30,000 to repair and repave the parking lot at Evergreen Park that will be used to accommodate vehicles when the new spray park opens later this month. Public Works Director Ed Bliss told the board the lot is in poor shape and recommended it be fixed.

Mayor Ron Blum agreed.

“It doesn’t make sense to have a nice, new spray park and a crummy parking lot,” he said.

Three bids were received by the city for the parking lot. They were from Jokerst Paving & Contracting of Festus, Carl Burns Asphalt Paving & Sealing LLC of Union and N.B. West Contracting Co. of Sullivan. All three bids are in the upper $20,000s to low $30,000s.

Bliss and City Administrator Rick Childers reviewed the bids and selected Jokerst. Its bid was $8,239 to repair and patch the lot and $20,622 to repave it.

Childers said the work should be conducted sometime this week.

Park Budget

The 2013 park department budget includes money that originally was placed in the community swimming pool line item. The pool no longer exists, and the final touches are being put on the new spray park, located in the same place. It has a scheduled May 22 opening date.

The funds then were dedicated for financing the spray park, but the debt repayment for that project will not start until 2014.

A chunk of the money — $9,500 — was sent earlier this year to Westport Pools of Maryland Heights for design services. Westport Pools is constructing the spray park.

In March, aldermen opted to have that money come out of the park board’s budgeted 2013 funds for the facility. That left about $22,500 in that specific line item.

“You have these funds available to use pretty much as you please,” Childers told park board members during their April meeting. “Since the spray park repayment doesn’t start until 2014, these funds are kind of like one-time money you have.”

During earlier park board meetings, city employee Gary Ward had outlined some repairs needed within the city’s two main parks — Orchard and Evergreen. They included remulching the playground areas and making improvements to the walking trail at Orchard Park.

Park board members discussed several ways the $22,400 in the pool fund could be spent, but opted in the end to recommend the needed repairs.

But that was before the parking lot issue surfaced.

One decision the park board made — spending about $5,400 to add mulch to the playground areas at both parks — already has been carried out. In some areas around the children’s equipment, the mulch is either thin or nonexistent, and the city’s insurance carrier, MIRMA, requires adequate surface material in those locations.

Removing money to fund that project left about $17,000 in the park fund, which now will go toward the parking lot project.

Last month, the board also had wanted to spend about $10,000 to reseal the walking trail surface at Orchard Park. Childers said the asphalt path has not received any attention for several years and is in dire need of the resurfacing.

Along with that, the board wanted to spend about $2,500 to improve lighting in areas along the trail. Since St. Clair’s parks are open until midnight, Childers said there are many walkers who use the trail for exercise purposes after dark.

Finally, the park board wanted to spend about $2,000 to replace the walking bridge that goes over the drainage ditch at Evergreen Park. Portions of that wooden bridge are rotting.

All of those projects now are on hold.

Additional money to repair and repave the Evergreen parking lot will come from other places within the city’s budget, Childers said.

Disc Golf

Also during its April meeting, some park board discussion centered on spending some of the pool fund money for the proposed disc golf course at Evergreen Park. There currently is some funding in the park budget for the course, but estimates range from $9,000 to $15,000 to design and build a course in its entirety.

Park board members feel having a disc golf course in the city will provide a unique entertainment activity for residents as well as be a draw for nonresidents to visit.

Park board did vote to send out a request for proposals for the golf course. Childers said he would put that request together to include information on both nine- and 18-hole options. When the RFPs come in, the board will decide on how to proceed at that time.