New group of park supporters gets OK from city council


News editor

Peabody resident Susie Schmidt presented a long-range strategy to plan and maintain Peabody parks with a volunteer group, relieving the city of the need to fund improvements and landscaping projects.

Schmidt and a group of volunteers had confirmation from about 23 people willing to commit to support of Peabody parks.

The group will called POPPS (Partners of Peabody Parks). An organizational meeting was held May 23 in the Anne Potter room of the library.

Schmidt said that she was interested in getting city approval of a couple of issues right away.

"I would like to meet with the city council parks representatives to work out an agreement on short and long-term goals," she said. "And we have a group that would like to replant the flower beds at the back of city park. However, the city employees said they are too hard to mow around. Is there a way we could make them more maintenance friendly? We'd like to work on that.

"We also would like to find the two large green barrel planters that were at the park gates several years ago . . . if they still exist," she said.

No one on the council was aware of the planters, but Benbrook said public works would be contacted about them.

Schmidt also asked if the city was interested in the group continuing to re-paint playground equipment.

"We need to buy more paint," she said. "If the city still wants to be in charge of this project, we probably need to firm up an agreement with you and find out if you have funds available to pay for paint."

Councilman Leslie LaFoy made a motion to authorize development of an agreement for long and short-term goals and implementation between the two groups and Larry Larsen moved to allow them to charge $250 of paint to continue painting playground equipment. Both motions passed unanimously.

Council members later agreed to schedule budget workshops for planning the 2009 budget. The first will be held in the city council room at 7 p.m. June 16.

Park funding will be among the many expenditures up for discussion.

In a related issue, the council began the review process on the results of the comprehensive plan. The group recognized the need for a planning commission to make recommendations to city council about implementing and funding the plan. City administrator Jeff Benbrook was instructed to mail a letter to prospective candidates from previous planning meetings.

In other business, the council:

— approved payment of $8,500 to Middlecreek Mining, Inc. to close out the sewer demolition project. The city sent the contractor a letter terminating the project.

— heard from Chris Litton that wording on a water shut-off notice was confusing and might lead to a misunderstanding on the part of a resident getting a payment to the city office on time. Council members agreed to address the issue and eventually did agree with Litton that the wording was misleading. Steps will be taken to compose a new letter for future use.

— read a communication from Hillsboro water plant operator Morgan Marler that she and Pickens recommended the city continue to address water issues as has been done in the past weeks. Allowing for more frequent turnover of water in the water tower seems to have abated most of the discoloration and odor problems of late. Further discussion was tabled until such time that the issues might resurface.

— agreed to hire Tammy Whiteside as a city employee for a day when she is director of the July Fourth parade. In a related matter, it was announced that Brian McDowell has submitted his application to the state for licensing as director of fireworks, but the license has not yet been approved. The city also was asked for a donation for fireworks, but tabled the request until the status of McDowell's license is known.

— granted Whiteside permission to host a car show at the southeast corner of city park.

— heard that street bids had been received from Inland Paving and APAC Company. Additional information was requested from APAC, tabling the bid process until the next meeting.

— heard from Curtis and Christie McBride about a "Bowl for Sidewalks" promotion they will sponsor for six months in an effort to repair and/or replace sidewalks in town. Council approved and accepted the plan.

— heard the memorial tree program at city park will now become a part of the POPPS program.

— discussed with chief Bruce Burke, the requirements for his department to move into the new city building on Ninth Street.

— heard that Leslie LaFoy will attend a Northern Alliance Flyer meeting Tueday in Oklahoma City.