Paxton park board to remain at 7 commissioners

PAXTON — The Paxton Park District’s board of commissioners will still consist of seven members — for now.

The board discussed the possibility of lowering the number of commissioner appointments to five at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Commissioner Bobby Kinnaird made a motion to pursue a ballot question on the March 2018 primary election ballot, but there was no second.

“At this time, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to go on the ballot,” President Steve Sample said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a discussion we continue to have, because we always struggle to keep a full board. I doubt that we’re done talking about it, but for now, it’s not going to be on the ballot.”

The park board had seven commissioners entering the meeting, but Nicci Greenlee was to be turning in a letter of resignation later in the week. She is moving out of Paxton — and one of the board’s requirements for becoming commissioner is to live in Paxton.

“We’re expecting a letter from the board member in the next week or so,” Sample said.

In August 2016, Greenlee was appointed for a vacant commissioner position.

Greenlee and Sample were each re-appointed to two-year terms last April, while Bobby Kinnaird, who was appointed to a vacancy in April 2016, was sworn-in last April to a four-year term. Amber King, Kaye Harper and Brad Ecker — the board’s vice president — were each elected to four-year terms in April 2015.

Last May, the board approved Sample’s nomination of Denver “D.C.” Piatt to serve as a board member to fill former president Brad Strebeck’s vacated seat. Strebeck attended his final meeting the previous March.

Kinnaird’s term expires in April 2021. All other terms will expire in April 2019.

Sample, who has served as a member of the board for more than six years, said there may be some further discussion about reducing the number of commissioners in the near future.

“There have been very few lengths of time where we’ve had a full board in the time that (Paxton Park District Recreation Director) Neal (McKenry) has been here, so it has always been kind of a frustrating thing. It’s just hard for us to get people interested in coming on board,” Sample said.

With seven commissioners, the board is required to have at least four of its members present at a meeting for any vote to occur. The requirement would have been reduced to three if the number of positions were reduced to five.

“It has always been a struggle,” Sample said. “The fear is that when we don’t have a full board, it’s hard for us to have a quorum to hold our meetings and vote on things, so by reducing the number of board members, that becomes a little easier.”

Parking lot project delayed by weather
Due to weather, a project that involves the resurfacing of the Civic Center’s parking lot and alleviating draining issues around that same parking lot has been delayed, the board learned.

The work is now expected to be fully completed in the spring, McKenry said.

“The major damaged areas have been fixed, but another full layer of asphalt needs to be laid over the entire lot,” McKenry said. “The drainage work around the parking lot and Coady Park has been completed more or less, and it seems to have made a good difference.”

Work will include finishing the parking lot and doing some minor landscaping work around the currently distressed areas. That will take place next spring, McKenry said.

“We had the option of having Farnsworth (engineers) come in and do a winter site visit to make sure every everything is in order. However, we are foregoing that for now,” McKenry said. “If the need arises and we do, in fact, need something later in the winter, we’ll give them a call.” 

Smoke-free parks ordinance discussion tabled
Also at the meeting, the board discussed but made no decision on whether the park district should pursue a smoke-free parks ordinance.

“We’re going to continue discussing that,” Sample said.

McKenry and park district attorney Ross Sorensen will look into it, Sample said.

“We’ll continue that discussion next month. We just need a little more information on that,” Sample said.

McKenry said he was first waiting and seeing what the city decides regarding a similar ordinance at its council meeting. On the same night the park baord met, the city  council voted in favor of implementing a 15-foot smoking ban around structures within parks owned by the city.

“We’d be looking to create some unity between their decision and ours, if it were to pass through the city,” McKenry said. “If it were to be instituted townwide, I’m sure the park district’s policy would be pretty cut and dry — simply no smoking on park district property, which would be all of Coady Park and Westlawn Park.” 

If a policy or ordinance were to be created, it would need to be self-policed, according to McKenry. 

“I will not be searching our grounds, looking for people breaking the no-smoking policy,” McKenry said. “The no-smoking policy would pretty much give citizens the right to, if they see someone smoking on park district grounds, to say, ‘Hey, I’d appreciate you not smoking. You know there is a policy against it.’”   

Breakfast with Santa set for Dec. 9
The park district will host its annual Breakfast with Santa event on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Civic Center, 601 S. Fall St.

Breakfast will be served from 8 to 10:30 a.m. The breakfast is free and will include eggs, sausage, hash browns, French toast  and drinks.

The park district will also have activities for the kids and Santa.

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