MOUNT IDA – Monday night’s monthly meeting of the Mount Ida City Council opened with a heated discussion regarding the current state of the city park.
Mayor Jo Childress opened the meeting by asking about a recent derogatory Facebook post regarding the condition of the city park. She stated that the post complained about the tall grass at the park.
Alderperson Joan Whisenhunt stated that she had shared the post with all the Alderpersons who were on Facebook because the post blamed the city council for the lack of mowing at the park. She also said that she had shared the post with Brookie Mayberry and asked her to show it to the Mayor.
Whisenhunt added that she had visited the park to assess the state of the park. She shared that there are three areas of the park playground that targets different age groups. Her concern was with the area that is meant to be used by the younger children. The area in question is on the old enclosed tennis court. The city placed several plastic toys and backyard equipment inside the fence a few years ago.
Whisenhunt stated that several of the toys are broken and are at risk of injuring a child. She discussed federal guidelines for playground equipment. She stated that none of the toys in the toddler area meet federal guidelines. Some of the examples she gave where: Improper handrails on taller toys; Equipment not anchored down: No fall zones around toys.
Whisenhunt stated that she isn’t against the area, but believes the plastic toys should be removed from the enclosed area. She also suggested that new nets are bought so it can be used as a tennis court once again. She added that the equipment currently at the park is meant for personal use in someone’s backyard, not for public use in a city park.
Mayor Childress responded by saying that she has only heard compliments about the toddler area. She added that parents like that they can place their children inside the enclosed area and not worry about them wandering away.
Whisenhunt responded by saying that the park is not a holding tank for children. Alderperson Will Brakefield stated that the problem is that not all parents watch their children while they are in the toddler area. He stated that some parents place their children in the area and then sit against the gate to prevent them from exiting.
The Mayor stated that she hadn’t read the federal book of regulations for park equipment. Whisenhunt offered to provide her with a copy.
Mayor Childress stated that she would have city employees clear the plastic toys from the toddler area Wednesday. She also pointed out that the city has recently spent around $20,000 on new equipment to be installed at the park.
Whisenhunt offered to help locate safe playground equipment to be installed at the park.
Mayor Childress stated that she had talked to the city employees responsible for mowing the park. She had shown them photos of the clumps of tall grass and instructed them to mow. The reason given for the tall grass was that they had gotten behind. The Mayor pointed out that they also have several other areas to mow, as well as their trash collection schedule.
The Mayor stated that the Facebook post was a part of a personal vendetta against a city employee regarding dogs that had been picked up. Alderperson Joe Partain pointed out that the city does have a leash ordinance.
Mayor Childress asked the Council to notify her before the meeting the next time they come up with something.
She reminded the alderpersons that the city used to pay someone $2,400 a year to maintain the park. The city employees came to her and stated that they could maintain the park. The money once paid to outsource the work now goes to the trash collection fund to pay for the time the employees spend at the park.
Alderperson Rick Farmer mentioned a light that is out at the park. He has raised concerns about the light in the past because there is a dark spot on the trail because of the nonfunctional light. Mayor Childress reminded him that the light belongs to the clinic. Farmer asked who owned the building. The Mayor stated that if the clinic ever leaves it would belong to the city.
Farmer asked if the city could go ahead and replace the light if the clinic won’t do it. Mayor Childress stated that if the city does that then Entergy might start charging the city for the light.
Alderperson Brakefield pointed to an area just up the trail as a potential location for a new light that would belong to the city.
After discussion regarding current needs at the city park came to a conclusion the council approved the minutes and the financial reports.
Alderperson Whisenhunt bragged on city employee Caleb Chesshir and the job he has done at the city shop. She stated that he had organized all the equipment and the shop looks very nice.
With no other business the meeting was adjourned.