McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 14, 2013

Chadick Park playground upgrade proposal left swinging

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — A proposal to upgrade the playground at Chadick Park has been left swinging — at least for now.

McAlester city councilors voted to table a measure last Tuesday night that would have resulted in upgrading the park’s playground.

However, since they tabled the item, it’s set to come up again during the council next regular meeting on Sept. 24.

By that time, city councilors are also expected to have some additional information that Ward 3 City Councilor Travis Read requested of McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak.

Before he votes to approve any playground upgrades, Read said he wanted to see an updated list of all the city’s capital improvements needs.

Maybe someone needs a new vehicle, Read said.

The matter came up when city Chief Financial Officer Toni Ervin addressed the council about changes she wanted to make in the city budget based on new financial information.

“We’re going to see new playground equipment at Chadick Park,” she said. Ervin said some of the equipment is 20-years-old.

She proposed financing the upgrade at Chadick Park with $125,000 of the money the city expects to be paid for granting permission for a new communications monotower to be constructed on city property, on the same lot as the city’s south side fire station.

Stasiak told the council that one of the problems with the current playground at Chadick Park is it is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We have a sand pit that’s basically used by cats,” Stasiak said, referring to how cats can use the sand on the playground  as a big litter box. “It’s a cat pit,” he said.

Stasiak wants to have the sand removed and replaced with wood chips.

Read commented on the proposal regarding Chadick Park.

“My problem is we’re so quick to spend this money,” Read said, without due consideration to how it could be best used.

Following more discussion, Read’s motion to table the matter until the council sees an updated report on capital needs passed by a unanimous vote of the council.

Meanwhile, the city had not yet received the money for the communications tower, since the proposed contract also has to be approved by Cingular Wireless.

On Friday, the News-Capital asked Stasiak how the city could pay for the playground equipment with that money, since the city doesn’t have it yet.

“Our request was to take $125,000 out of the fund balance,” Stasiak said, referring to money the city currently has in its funds balance account. Stasiak said the city now expects to be paid $132,000 as a result of the agreement involving the new communications tower.

When the city receives that money, the $125,000 could be replaced in the funds balance account, he said.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.