Parks Director Darren Dunkle

The Washington Park Board spent Thursday night reviewing the first draft of a proposed revision to park ordinances.

The revision of the ordinances, which cover everything from the makeup of the park board to acceptable behavior at the parks, has been a project for parks director Darren Dunkle since he came to the city in 2011.

Thursday night, the park board conducted a workshop to go over the proposed revisions instead of having a regular meeting. 

Dunkle said the ordinances hadn’t been updated for many years. He said there were some conflicts that needed to be addressed, as well as additions that needed to be made since new facilities have been added since the last revision.

Most of the ordinances remain unchanged, but some were altered. Dunkle said he consulted with other cities to see how they do things before making changes.

Bidding Process

The board requested one big change that wasn’t in the draft proposal. Board members requested Dunkle present them with any bids for purchases before taking the request to the  city council.

Earlier this year, Dunkle presented bids to the council for replacement doors at the city auditorium. The bid was $27,000 over budget and the council asked Dunkle to take the bid back to the park board to get a recommendation.  

At the time, members of the park board said the first time they had heard about the door bid being over budget was at Dunkle’s presentation to the council. 

“We should have a good idea what we’re buying,” said Bob Kloeppel, board member.

Board members wanted to be more involved in the bidding process, but didn’t want to see bids from every single parks purchase. Things like sod and mulch are regularly purchased and the board said it would slow down the process if they reviewed small purchases like that every month.

Still, the board requested to be included in the decision-making process for some purchases. 

“I think if the board is going to make a recommendation, it should be an educated one,” Sparky Stuckenschneider, board member, said. 

After a discussion, the board came to the consensus that Dunkle should present bids on purchases more than $10,000 to the park board for review first, before taking the bids to the council.

“Let’s go with $10,000,” said Dan Cassette, board member. “If it becomes a problem, we can always change it.”

Other Changes

The bidding change was the only major change to the draft, but the board did agree to some minor adjustments.

Dunkle, borrowing from other cities, proposed an ordinance that would require a vehicle exceeding a gross weight of 8,000 pounds to get permission before entering park property.

Dunkle said the reason for the ordinance is, some other cities have had problems with landscaping trucks and other heavy vehicles using parks as a meeting place. The heavy trucks can damage the pavement.

Dunkle said this hasn’t been a problem in Washington. Because it hasn’t been an issue, the board agreed to take it out for now.

“Let’s get rid of it,” Cassette said. “We can always put it in next year if it’s an issue.”

Another change clarifies the voting majority. For the nine-member board, five voters are needed for something to pass. 

The board had been, at times, just doing a majority of people at the meeting.

“It’s a simple majority of not who shows up, but of the collective group,” Dunkle said.

The board also discussed a need for more signs. Several members expressed surprise at an ordinance banning glass bottles at parks. Dunkle said the ordinance wasn’t new. 

Other ordinances, like not feeding animals at Lions Lake, in the draft weren’t new but were mostly unknown. The board said more signs needed to be placed so more people could be aware of the rules.