Marina event sends message about parks

“Meet Me at the Marina” proved to be an event that holds some promise for the city recreation department in Steubenville.

With about 100 participants taking advantage of Ohio’s fishing license-free day May 5, the marina, a city park, played host to a family oriented event, held as a way to get children who might not otherwise have the opportunity, to go fishing.

And, the event proved the marina can be a worthwhile park.

Yes, it takes work to maintain, cleaning after ever time the river rises to flood stage and painting and planting of flowers to keep it looking good.

But it is a community asset that, if the community chooses, can be used to host a variety of river events, from music to fishing to boating events. The marina once was the site of an annual boat race, but to make it part of the community may not take so much of a fanfare as simply seeing families and children enjoying a riverfront picnic or friends gathering to take part in some event.

Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn is pushing for a variety of events, and Terence and Alyse Rainbow are to be congratulated for not only helping put on the fishing event but to continue with more fishing events, a recognition through their Off the Hook Ministries of the power to bring families together represented in a simple fishing pole.

The marina effort comes as the city considers ending decades of maintaining small park areas scattered throughout the city.

The issue has become whether the playgrounds and small parks are worth maintaining as the population and the city work force has shrunk. Recommendations for the parks at Parkdale, Linda Way, Devonshire and the Flats to be ending their time as recreation facilities have been made by the recreation board at the request of City Council, which wanted a review of city park facilities.

The goal is to concentrate efforts at major parks including Belleview, North End, Jim Woods, Murphy Field and the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, making limited dollars have more of an impact.

The city would still have to mow the parks but it wouldn’t be paying for commercial playground structures that may not be as heavily used as in the past.

The recreation board is giving time for citizens to digest that news and to have their say at the June rec board meeting before initiating closures of the small parks.

It’s tough to give up what once was and the recreation board said the small parks it’s chosen aren’t heavily utilized, at least not as heavily in a city of less than 18,000 population as they were in a city with 36,000 population 50 years ago.

The marina can be grown into an asset again. The neighborhood parks, according to the city, have become a maintenance and monetary drain.

Citizens have made their voice heard by participating in the fishing day at the marina.

Will they make their voice heard if they want to save four neighborhood playgrounds and parks?