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Community foundation funds exercise gear, movie setup for parks

Area residents can expect free movies at Waterworth Memorial Park this summer, along with the installation of adult exercise equipment in a clearing off of the parking lot off of Sunset and completion of the restroom upgrades near the duck pond.

“I’m excited about showing movies this summer,” Parks Director Shane Franks said.

He reported to the city Parks Commission on Wednesday that the Salem Community Foundation granted their requests for funding for up to $42,000 for the outdoor fitness equipment and another $1,700 to purchase the movie equipment.

“We’re looking forward to getting both of those up and operating this summer,” Franks said.

The outdoor fitness area will include seven different pieces of equipment that can accommodate up to 17 people at once. The movie equipment includes a projector, speakers, DVD player and a screen that measures 20 feet diagonally. The plan is to show at least five movies, all family-oriented, as a means of free entertainment.

Franks also reported that J. Herbert Construction will start on the restroom project either this week or next to upgrade the restroom facilities closest to the concession and duck pond at Waterworth Memorial Park. The city parks received a NatureWorks grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for $31,573 for the project, representing 75 percent of the project cost, which is $42,000. The parks department will cover 25 percent of the cost. The completion date of the project is set for June 1.

A major project being researched for next year is upgrading the lighting in all the parks to LED, which could create a cost savings in Ohio Edison bills. Franks talked to three different companies and received estimates from two of them, with MG Electric submitting an estimate of $38,170 and Yesco submitting an estimate of $31,470. He didn’t hear back from the third company, but noted that all three companies were adamant that switching to LED will reduce the electric bills by 50 percent.

Franks said he plans to talk with Ohio Edison and evaluate the current bills to get a handle on what the actual savings might be. He said if they wanted to do the project all at once, they could get a loan and possibly make the payment with the savings, or they could do a park at a time. He asked commission members to think about it and once he gets more numbers, they can decide which direction to go.

Mid-level projects the commission had already decided on for this year include opening a concession stand at Centennial Pool and painting/restaining the Swings & Things playground. Franks reported that Sandy Capel had contacted him about two church groups volunteering for the Swings & Things project with possibly over 100 volunteers, but they were looking at September to do the work. The consensus from Franks, Parks Foreman Jim Grimm and commission members was that’s too late in the year. To ensure it gets done, they all indicated a desire for the work to occur in June or July.

Grimm reported that he’s already working on taking out a wall at the pool building for the concession stand. He recently attended a park conference where he heard a lot of ideas and said Salem parks are moving in a good direction. He talked about a drainage project for Lions Field where water was running through the outfield and across second base over to third base. The commission told him to take down the fence at Lions Field for now, due to its poor condition. Franks stressed, though, that they need to plan for a new fence for next year possibly, one designed for girls softball that goes out 250 feet, if some fencing they have on hand won’t work.

Commission Chair John Panezott said they need to keep in mind what they’re spending, but Franks said there may be some sources for funding for a new fence.

Recreation Supervisor Amber Smith said she’ll be accepting registrations until March 20 for girls softball. She’s also having a meeting with pool lifeguards, with Franks noting they’re losing the head lifeguard, who also was the assistant pool manager. Smith serves as the pool manager. He said they’ll need to find someone to be the head lifeguard.

Smith also said she’s been filling plastic eggs in preparation for this year’s Easter Egg Hunt which the parks department co-sponsors with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Northwood Realty Services. Last year there were 9,000 individually-filled eggs. The Easter Egg Hunt is set for 11 a.m. April 11 at Waterworth Memorial Park. She said a group of students is coming to the parks office at 2222 Oak St. next week to help stuff eggs.

The commission also talked about some smaller projects for the parks this year. Besides purchasing a movie package of movies to show and discussing the fencing at Lions Field, they also discussed possibly adding a wheelchair swing at Mullins Park and motion sensor lights at some pavilions. Franks said he was approached about a wheelchair swing two years ago by someone who said the investment would be $1,000 and they could try to get the funding. Nothing happened with it, but Franks said it would be a nice addition.

Commission Vice Chair Lucille Karnofel questioned if it would get used and new commission member Lori Colian asked why Mullins. She noted that Buckeye School comes to Waterworth a lot and there’s a class with children with multiple handicaps that she could see using something like that.

“These kids often don’t have a place to go,” she said.

Colian also relayed how Stark County recently won awards for a mindfulness trail, saying it might be something to consider.

The next commission meeting will be 5 p.m. March 25 at the park offices on Oak Street, just off of Southeast Boulevard.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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