McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 24, 2013

McAlester city council gives playground proposal a push

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — A majority of McAlester city councilors gave plans to upgrade the playground and equipment at Chadick Park a push forward Tuesday night.

Following some debate and a number of questions on the matter, Mayor Steve Harrison joined four city councilors in agreeing to an amendment in the city budget that reflected the playground plan.

The council took the action during its regular Tuesday night meeting in the council chambers at City Hall.

Before the vote, McAlester residents Devin Veney and Misti Hawkins spoke about what they saw as the need to upgrade Chadick Park.

McAlester Community Services Director Mel Priddy and city Chief Financial Officer Toni Ervin both spoke in support of a Chadick Park upgrade.

Their plan called for spending up to $125,000 of more than $130,000 the city expects to receive in the form of a 10-year lump payment for allowing a new communications tower to be constructed on the south side of the city.

Ward 3 Councilor Travis Read and Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith had questions about possible infrastructure needs. Ward 6 Councilor Sam Mason spoke about the needs in other city parks, while Ward 4 Councilor Robert Karr said he would support the Chadick Park project.

Read said he didn’t want to allocate the city funds at the cost of other projects that were already approved, since the city has not yet received the communications tower payment —which still has to be approved by attorneys.

McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak told the councilors that by voting “yes,” they were simply authorizing the council to send out Requests for Proposals for playground equipment.

Before anything can be purchased, the matter will have to be brought before the council again for consideration once the RFPs are received, he said.

Mayor Harrison said there will  always be more infrastructure needs in the city than the city will be able to pay for at any given time.

“We’re always going to have more priorities than dollars to pay for them,” he said. “I do think there are quality of life issues.”

Harrison said he supported the playground project for Chadick Park.

“I expect the city will focus on other parks,” he said, referring to looking beyond the needs at Chadick Park to other parks as well.

Joining Harrison in voting “yes” for the proposal were Ward 2 Councilor John Titsworth, Ward 3 Councilor Travis Read, Ward 4 Councilor Robert Karr and Ward 6 Councilor Sam Mason.

Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith voted “no” and Ward 5 Councilor Buddy Garvin did not attend the meeting.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.