Mayor: Vandals would ruin any improvements to Junction park

Published 8:31 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A request to repair and improve Junction City Park was made during the regular city council meeting Monday night.

Daphne Belcher, a life-long resident of Junction City, told the council she frequently takes her three grandchildren to play at the city park but has concerns that some playground equipment needs to be updated because of cracks; the softball field needs to be put back into use; and bathrooms should be repaired and reopened.

Every time she’s at the park with her grandchildren, the youngest one always has to go to the bathroom, Belcher said. She has to pack up all the children and go home, then return to play, she said.

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Mayor Jim Douglas said three or four years ago the council “spent a lot of money” to completely remodel the bathrooms. They painted the facility and put in new fixtures. “Everything was new.”

“The very first night they broke the commodes out of the floor. So that’s been the biggest problem β€” it lasted one night.”

“I understand there’s been problems in the past,” Belcher said. She suggested that security cameras could be placed at the entrances to deter vandals from destroying the city’s property.

However, council members said they would be stolen, even if they were somehow camouflaged.

Someone suggested port-a-potties could be set up, but that idea was quickly dismissed. “That would be worse,” Mayor Douglas said. “They would be turned over.”

Belcher said she’s seen a lot of teenagers in the park and has seen graffiti in the area.

“I’m open for anything,” Mayor Douglas said about helping to keep the park in good working condition.

Belcher also said there wasn’t much damage to the softball field, but she didn’t know about the concession area.

“The field needs to be leveled off is probably the main thing, just to use the field,” Belcher said, “even if it’s just used as a practice field.”

Belcher said she’s found a couple of grants the city could apply for to improve the park. She also told the council she’d volunteer to be on a committee to look into grants to fix the ball field.

Council member Kenny Baldwin said he recalled that a few years back, “A guy came in and wanted to put the baseball field back so little league could play there,” at a cost of about $18,000.

Mayor Douglas said no, the cost was more like $80,000. However, “I’m open for any of this, for any suggestions” Mayor Douglas said. He asked if any council members wanted to help Belcher look into grants for park improvements. Baldwin volunteered to see what could be done for the park.

After the meeting, Belcher said, “It’s really frustrating to know what it used to be like and what it is now.”

Another resident, Kathleen Pemberton asked the mayor and council to do something to slow down speeders on White Oak Road. “They don’t even try to follow the speed limit.”

Pemberton said the traffic signs have been defaced and “no one pays attention” to the speed limit.

She also said she’s seen many dogs and other small animals killed by speeding vehicles in the area near her home. “It’s just scary.”

Pemberton said and she is afraid a person will be struck by a speeding driver someday.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” Pemberton said.

“It’s a problem all over town,” Mayor Douglas said, then asked Junction City Police Chief Merl Baldwin to make more of a presence in the area to help curb the speeding problem on White Oak Road.

In other business, Junction City Fire Chief Cory Kitchen asked the council to purchase a specialized fan for the fire department. Whenever one is needed, the Boyle County Fire Department β€œis very generous” and loans his department whatever equipment he needs, Chief Kitchen said.

“If we need it, buy it,” said council member Bill McCowan, and the request was passed unanimously.