Park Board Approves Bond Issue; Sets Fees for 2014

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Published on January 14 2014 8:49 pm
Last Updated on January 14 2014 8:49 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham Park Board members have agreed to issue up to $500,000 in bonds to finance capital improvement projects planned during 2014.

Park District Director Jeff Althoff said the projects will include a long-discussed maintenance shed at Evergreen Hollow Park.  Althoff said having the building will reduce the running of equipment back and forth among the various parks.  

Additional work is planned on parking lots in District parks, and on the road that winds down and around Community Park from Engbring Street to the former swimming pool area.  The roadway is now used for the Wonderland in Lights display at Christmastime.

Althoff said the road has needed repaired for years, but said this year was particularly tough on it due to the wet and cold.

Park Commissioners also voted to maintain the current Park District program and facility fees for 2014, except for the Kluthe Memorial Pool.  The decision was to raise pool fees by 50 cents across-the-board.  Althoff said the move was made to "hopefully" offset rising costs of pool chemicals and of personnel.

The Park Board approved 3% wage increases for Park District employees, and discussed progress on the capital fund drive to help pay for the Richard Workman Sports and Wellness Center.  Althoff said over $700,000 has been pledged toward a goal of $3 million by March 1.

Park Board members also reviewed the use of the Ron Diehl Center at Hendelmeyer Park as a warming center during last week's winter storm.  Althoff said the City Emergency Management Agency contacted the Park District Monday afternoon that almost every motel room in town had been taken so the decision was made to open the warming center.  He said he and other Park District employees cleared the sidewalks while City crews arrived to clean off the parking lot at the Center to make way for the stranded motorists.  

Althoff said there were more than 220 people at the Center on Monday night as well as the pets of the travelers.  He said the guests were grateful for a place to stay.  EMA supplied for food for the travelers and Red Cross provided as many cots as they could.  One problem was that the Red Cross cots diidn't all arrive.  Althoff said the cots were stuck in Vandalia and in Flora and couldn't be brought any farther in the storm.  Churches assisted EMA in bringing food to the shelter.

The main gym was used as a sleeping area while the Fine Arts room was utilized as a dining area. The basement gym was used as an area where children and even pets could run and roam.  

Althoff said more than 100 people stayed there Tuesday night and said there were still 30 to 40 people Wednesday until that number dwindled to about a dozen by evening and the shelter was closed.