Darren Dunkle

Trash cans, picnic tables and money for a dog park fence are some of the items on the Washington Park Department budget wish list.

Tasked with coming up with items for the 2014-15 budget, the park board decided to ask for everything that didn’t make the budget last year while also adding several new items.

Parks and Recreation Director Darren Dunkle said the next step is to get the park board to formally endorse the request at the May 1 meeting before it goes to the budgeting meetings.

Every year during the annual budget process, several requested items get dropped and pushed to another year. For example, the park department asked for replacement doors at the city auditorium for several years before finally getting them earlier this year.

Dunkle prepared a list for the park board at the April 17 administration/operations meeting that was a mix of old and new projects.

Old Items

One old item at the top of the list is a new roof for the parks department maintenance facility.

“We’re going to get to a point where that roof can only last another year,” Dunkle said. “We’re going to have leaks.”

In addition to the roof, Dunkle said security gates are needed for the parks building.

“You wouldn’t believe at nighttime how many people drive around the building,” Dunkle said. “God knows what they’re doing. I think a lot of people, if we have a trash truck, go and dump trash. We’d like to get some gates up there and block that off.”

Other old items were basketball goals and money for fencing at the new dog park. Based on conversations with the Washington Dog Park group, the money requested for the fencing, budgeted at $15,000, would just be for raw materials. The fence would be installed by a volunteer.

Playground improvements for Lions Lake were also on Dunkle’s list.

For maintenance purposes, Dunkle said only a portion of the needed field conditioner was approved for last year. Additionally, a new trailer also was cut from last year’s budget.

The board unanimously agreed that all the old items were worth asking for again.

New Items

Trash cans and picnic tables topped the new items request list. Dunkle said the cans are becoming a really big need.

Dunkle said the current ones are becoming rusty. He said he didn’t replace them with 55-gallon barrels because those can get extremely full and are hard to empty.

“I’d like to do something better than the 55-gallon drums,” Dunkle said. “They don’t look the nicest, plus, they’re so big, when they fill all the way to the top, it’s so heavy. It’s hard to empty them out. I’d like to get something a little nicer, a little more durable and easier  — maybe a 32-gallon size.”

Dunkle said the department could use about 50 new trash cans.

The picnic tables are an issue as well. He said every year the wood tables have to be sanded and maintained and they’re getting past the point of recovery.

Dunkle said he would like to start getting new tables to replace the older ones one pavilion at a time. Over time, every table would be replaced.

Playground improvements were also on the new list. Dunkle said the main park and Optimist park both could use some upgrades.

Dunkle also is requesting money to overlay and potentially widen the riverfront trail.

The board requested Dunkle add the tennis courts to the budget. The board wants to get pricing for a new service for the fairground tennis courts and look into the possibility of converting them into basketball courts.

In the five-year budget, Dunkle said the department has identified a need to replace a one-ton dumb truck, a three-quarter-ton truck, a zero-turn mower, a skidloader and a field groomer.

Also in the five-year budget are plans to replace pavilions at Lions Lake. Dunkle said in the five-year budget, he wants to replace a pavilion every year for the next four years.


Dunkle mentioned that the floor at the lower level of the auditorium needs to be replaced, but he was unsure if that should be in the budget.

For the last several months the park board has discussed making improvements to the auditorium.

“I don’t want to spend a lot of money to replace the floor if we’re going to come back in a year or two and tear it up,” Dunkle said.

Dunkle said it might be best to make an entire plan first.

Instead of just guessing at what needs to be fixed, Dunkle said it would make more sense to get a professional audit done to examine what the actual issues are.

The rest of the park board agreed.