By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
City officials’ recent pursuit of Vision Iowa and other park projects has members of the Parkland and Facilities Development committee concerned that their committee has been repeatedly overlooked as a point for projects to be reviewed.
The Parkland and Facilities Development committee was created by a city ordinance in 2008 to replace the Riverview Park Commission.
The city ordinance outlines the all citizen committee’s charge to assist in plan development, recommend alterations and improvements to city parks and to offer input and assistance to the recreation department and grounds division of the public works department.
Former committee chairman and current committee member Mark Schroeder said he and fellow committee members do not feel that the city has been utilizing them in the way the ordinance specifies.
While the concerns have been circulating for several months, committee members were further discouraged by the recent news that city officials were planning to spend $226,000 on Vision Iowa projects and $85,000 in park sale proceeds on the 25th Avenue North courtesy dock.
The improvements include $15,000 to upgrade the bandshell to phase three electric, $39,000 in bathhouse improvements and $20,000 for LED lighting at Riverview Pool, $40,000 for additional parking pads at the RV Park, $45,000 for additional slips at the marina and $25,000 for parking lot LED lighting, $25,000 for stadium LED lighting, $12,000 for field work and $5,000 for facade repair/brick work at the stadium. These projects came before the council because of $325,000 in reimbursements for Vision Iowa projects from the Friends of Riverview Park and the Clinton County Development Authority that the city received.
“If you’re going to spend that much money in the parks, it calls for some citizen review as outlined in the resolution,” Schroeder said.
During the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, the Vision Iowa projects and the 25th Avenue courtesy dock were up for discussion. Before city council members spoke about the item, Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nathan Sondgeroth asked them to consider the Parkland and Facilities Development committee and what role it lets citizens play in the city planning process.
“They’re hungry for the next 10-year plan on where we’re going with Riverview Park,” Sondgeroth said of Clinton residents. “I’m just here today to ask you to give some purpose of the Parkland and Facilities Development committee that exists if only to give the public some outlet in order to be part of the process so we can all plan together what the next 10 years of Riverview Park and the park systems in general look like.”
The items came through the City Services committee, at-large Council member John Rowland explained.
“Most of the items on here are maintenance type items where we’re taking care of existing projects that are already in place,” Rowland said. “We’re trying to be good stewards and take care of the existing facilities that we have. I think it’s well justified and needed.”
Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman said he believed the Parkland and Facilities Development committee members felt they hadn’t been consulted before the council moved forward with improvements such as the Vision Iowa projects and the 25th Avenue North courtesy dock.
“We have this volunteer group that’s supposed to be recommending what to do and maybe recommending the boat dock improvements on the north end and they were not involved in that. So I think that’s what upsetting the apple cart here,” Gassman said.
The 25th Avenue North courtesy dock was approved by the council in 2009, but at the time funds for the project weren’t available. City officials now plan to move forward with funding from the Other Parks Improvement fund. Interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser said the funding is appropriate because people use the area for recreation.
“What will probably need to eventually happen is some additional improvements in that space to make it more (so) it’s not just a place to put your boat in the water, that it’s a place to go and have lunch and provide other opportunities to make it more of what we would envision as a typical park,” Kinser said.
The council approved both projects. In order to mend the rift between the council and the committee, Kinser and Mayor Mark Vulich agreed meet with the committee.