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Officials lose sleep over park’s condition

April 14, 2012
Salem News

EAST PALESTINE - A dreamland has turned into a nightmare of sorts at East Palestine Village Park.

Councilman Scott Rauch said Monday the Rainbow Dreamland portion of the park has turned into an area that is dangerous for kids.

He said he was told "numerous times" that people are taking their children to Columbiana or other area parks because there are contraceptives on the ground and graffiti on equipment at Rainbow Dreamland.

"A lot of the kids over there are older and have no business to be over there," he added.

He also said that during his 10 years on council the faucets, sinks and toilets at the park have been replaced 10 times.

"We have to get council under control and our city under control. East Palestine is gorgeous, and we are losing it because our attention is being pulled away," he said, referring to all the attention that has been paid recently to Village Manager Gary Clark and his wife Cindy, who worked as his administrative assistant and clerk of council.

Rauch represents the park board on council and his comments came immediately after Gary and Cindy Clark's resignations were announced. Before council entered into executive session to discuss the resignations Rauch said council needs to "get our game faces on and run this city."

His comments generated applause from some in the large crowd attending the meeting, but one man wasn't impressed.

Standing to his feet despite the public portion segment having already passed, he questioned why problems at the park weren't addressed before.

"You said this has been going on 10 years, why is this just now being talked about?" he asked Rauch.

Rauch pointed out that the man (who did not publicly identify himself) has not attended every council meeting.

"I know I brought this park up 20 times in 10 years. I can't change it," Rauch said.

Councilman Fran Figley said he picks up trash at the park every Sunday morning.

"Sometimes I come up there, and it's unbelievable how much stuff is lying there. I try to do my part. There are a lot of things we can do but it's not all council's problem," he said.

When he brought the discussion back to the Clarks the man again stood to his feet to speak but was silenced by Mayor Margo Zuch who pounded the gavel.

"Certain ones of us are going to get blamed for this business we are on here tonight (regarding the Clarks)," Figley had said prior to Zuch's interruption.

Councilman Don Elzer brought the discussion back to the park by asking if there are rules in place to shut down the park at a certain time but Figley said those things should be discussed by the park board and not during the village council meeting.

Others on council agreed the discussion should be conducted during a park board meeting.

Rainbow Dreamland was constructed by more than 2,200 volunteers over a period of five days in 1995 and was donated to the village by E.P. Playground Inc. Its estimated value at that time was $250,000, according to information available on the village website.

Finance Director Traci Thompson said Tuesday that as of April 3 the park fund was at $18,330. A source of the fund's revenue is levy funding and council recently approved placing five-year park levy renewals on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

In other business, council approved legislation for providing financial allocation of proceeds from revenue received as a result of oil and gas lease royalties. Municipal Attorney Shirley Smith said council could later draft legislation to reallocate revenue into specific funds if requested. The village has not signed a lease at this point.



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