Rec board considers proposed policies

STEUBENVILLE – Mary Beth Sills has been on the job for two months and has already written new proposed policies for the city’s parks and recreation department and plans to apply for a Nature Works Grant for renovations at the North End playground.

The grant is still in the application stage, but Sills told members of the recreation board Wednesday night she plans to seek the funding and asked the city administration to be ready with matching money.

“If we obtain this particular grant we can use the money for any type of project in the recreation department. My thought is the North End playground needs some work,” Sill said.

Sills also updated the board members on plans to replace playground equipment at the Piece of Pie Park this summer during the two-hour meeting.

“We are looking at a four-week delivery schedule, and I plan to hire a local contractor to install the new equipment. We will also be buying mulch from a local vendor to create a safety cushion under the equipment,” added Sills.

Board Chairwoman Sandi Rue said the board plans to revamp tot lot playground equipment systematically.

Sills asked the board to review proposed policies for facility rentals, parks and regulation regulations and vendors in the parks system.

“I believe organizations that use the park facilities should offer a certificate for insurance coverage. As far as the vendor policies, I think any vendor who plans to use our facilities should be required to fill out an application and should pay a fee for operating in the park,” remarked Sills.

In other business, Sills also proposed a dog swim day at the Belleview Pool once the pool is closed for the summer.

“We would offer the pool to dog owners only after the human swimmers are finished for the summer. The pool would sit unused for several days to allow the chemicals to dissipate. And, we would shut off the pumps. After the dog swim we would close the pool, drain the water, clean the facility and winterize it until next year. I have seen community pools offer this in other communities and the dog owners as well as the dogs love it,” Sills explained.

Mayor Domenick Mucci suggested Sills contact the Jefferson County Humane Society to help coordinate the event.

“The humane society has held bark in the park events in the past and may be interested in participating in the dog swim,” said Mucci.

Sills reported cracks in the Belleview Park tennis court have been repaired.

And, she congratulated T’Kayla Kelly for qualifying for the Hershey Track Meet finals in Hershey, Pa.

The board took action on several facility requests including approval for the First Westminster Presbyterian Church to use Belleview Park on Aug. 17 for its annual picnic; the South End reunion on Aug. 16 at Beatty Park; and Urban Mission Ministries on Aug. 23 at Jim Wood Park for a community bike ride.

The board learned the Ville Burn-Off scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the lower Belleview Park area did not meet several city requirements and will not take place this weekend.

The recreation board members agreed to close the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center on Labor Day because of the low attendance numbers. The board will review the holiday schedule for next year prior to January.

Councilman at large Kenny Davis requested the board consider construction of a basketball court at Jim Wood Park.

“There used to be a basketball court at the park before the upgrades. I believe if the city starts moving in that direction, the neighborhood around the park will also get involved with fundraisers to help pay for the court. This is something the residents have been requesting, and 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul and I would like to see it happen,” declared Davis.

And, after a three-month personal campaign Bill Ross of Steubenville obtained official permission to operate an ice ball mobile vendor facility at Belleview Park.

In other matters, City Manager Tim Boland said he plans to review a policy allowing city employees to reserve a park facility at half the price.

“That is something I want to look at, but I can tell you I am not comfortable with the policy,” said Boland.

Board member Jason Jenkins questioned why a family was not refunded the deposit money after using the Belleview Clubhouse for an event.

Sills said the recreation policy requires facilities to be vacated by the designated closing time.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)