Portage committee gives informal nod to $3.5 million in park bonds

2013-08-26T19:00:00Z 2013-08-26T20:26:08Z Portage committee gives informal nod to $3.5 million in park bondsJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The City Council Strategic Planning Committee on Monday gave informal approval for the city's park department to move forward on a bond issue to finance $3 million to $3.5 million in improvements.

Committee chairman Mark Oprisko said while he believes the parks are well maintained, the department needs to spend money to spruce up its buildings, especially to remain competitive in the facility rental market.

Oprisko and City Council members Pat Clem and Sue Lynch met with Parks Superintendent Jenny Orsburn, Park Board President Ken Lorenz and park staff members Pam Passera and Ralph Mundt to go over the department's needs in staffing, equipment and facilities.

Orsburn said staffing at the parks is fine at present.

However, she said there is a need for facility improvements, especially at Woodland and Countryside parks. She gave the committee a list of approximately $1.5 million in improvements at Woodland Park; $1 million at Countryside and about $300,000 needed at Imagination Glen, Gilbert, Olson, Wolfe, Perry and Robert's parks. In addition, Orsburn said there is a need for about $30,000 in equipment.

Founder's Square Park was not included in the bond issue, but, Lynch said, the Redevelopment Commission is considering its own bond issue. That would include constructing an amphitheater, walking path, splash pad and restrooms at the park. Founder's Square Park is owned by the Redevelopment Commission.

Many of the proposed improvements at Woodland Park would be at Sycamore Hall, including reconstructing an entrance on the north side of the building, updating the kitchen and updating the roof.

Improvements at Countryside would focus on the barn, bringing water, sewers, heating and air conditioning to the building so that it could be used as a rental space.

Orsburn said the present bond issue would be paid off at the end of 2014, so the new proposed issue would take its place and have no effect on taxpayers.

It is likely the proposal will go to the Park Board at its Sept. 16 meeting and then to the full City Council in October for approval.

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