City approves $1.25 million in park projects

March 20, 2019

A plan for $1.25 million in Rochester park upgrades was approved Monday.

The funding is a portion of approximately $3 million in surplus funds from the city’s 2018 budget.

“It’s a good story to tell right now,” Rochester City Council Member Michael Wojcik said.

City Administrator Steve Rymer said some funds have been set aside to build city reserves, and the planned park spending is intended to address several identified maintenance and upgrade projects.

The projects include:

• $650,000 for the reconstruction of the Soldiers Memorial Field Park parking lot.

• $200,000 to reconstruct and pave the track at Soldiers Memorial Field Park.

• $200,000 to help reconstruct tennis courts at Kutzky Park.

• $100,000 doe work on the pavilion in Silver Lake Park.

Another $100,000 has been earmarked for the city’s Park Board to consider smaller projects in city wards not benefiting from the identified projects.

While the city’s Parks Master Plan doesn’t prioritize the estimated $70 million to $83 million in spending proposed over the next 20 years, Rymer said the upgrades were selected as key projects to maintain existing park infrastructure.

Additionally, he noted the work in the Kutzky and Silver Lake parks has already benefited from community efforts.

So far, $380,000 has been raised for the Kutzky Park tennis courts and another $70,000 has been pledged. In Silver Lake Park, residents have worked on upgrades to the pavilion.

Council Member Nick Campion said he didn’t want to vote against spending in parks but felt compelled to voice the need for caution.

“I want to make sure we’re not going to pay park funds and increase the property tax levy,” he said, noting the city has faced increased health care costs in recent years, which has led to increased tax rates.

Priority concerns were also raised by Council President Randy Staver and Council Member Mark Bilderback, but Campion ended up being the only one to vote against spending the surplus funds.

Other council members, however, said they considered the park spending a priority.

Council Member Shaun Palmer said he considered the proposal to be fiscally responsible, since it was taking care of needs for the community.

“The public wants our parks to be good, and we need to invest in that,” he said.