A proposal involving cost sharing
highlighted last Thursdays meeting between
county and city officials in regard to the county's
claim that Platte City has not lived up to its end
of a maintenance agreement on county-owned park
The meeting came just days after
Platte Citys parks and recreation board had
submitted a written proposal to the county in an
attempt to answer the county's concerns about the
condition of Platte Ridge Park located along Hwy.
371 north of Tracy.
Two aldermen represented the city
at this meeting, Ken Brown and Aaron Jung. Brown
said one of his goals was gathering information
to take back to the remaining aldermen at their
meeting next Tuesday.
We need to find a resolution
and common ground to avoid unnecessary dissolution
between us and the county, Brown said. Aaron
(Jung) and I are here to represent the city and
we want to get the countys perspective since
were on the outside looking in on this issue.
Platte County commissioners, who
were all present at the meeting, had sent a letter
outlining specific deficiencies of park maintenance
to Dannie Stamper, director of the Platte City parks
and recreation. The letter, dated Dec. 21, named
areas the county says the city has neglected. These
include the baseball and soccer complexes, trail
surfaces, fencing, safety and security issues, and
a connecting road in the park.
The county previously acquired the
park property and has over $2 million invested in
the project. The county entered into a partnership
with the Platte City Board of Aldermen and the Platte
City park board to operate and maintain the facility
The city has responded to the countys
letter, dated Jan. 10, that costs to repair the
property could be near $100,000. The city is requesting
the county share in this cost, split $60,000 on
the citys part and the remaining $40,000 by
The probability of this cost sharing
proposal was questioned at the meeting when Brown
proposed the two parties can meet halfway to make
Although we can make no official
decisions today without the board being present,
we need to move forward, said Brown. The
county could consider setting aside money for this
project in their 2007 budget.
Brian Nowotny, director of parks
for Platte County, responded that this request would
never happen and was not an option at this time.
I dont see that happening.
The city is responsible for road paving and maintenance,
not the county, said Nowotny. We have
big dreams for this project, but not enough money
for it all.
Nowotny said the worst case
scenario would be about $60-65,000 the city is responsible
While costs were being discussed,
Brown decided to add his opinion the project costs
outlined in the citys response letter to the
county were inaccurate.
Its been apparent to
me from the outset this plan has been offered to
the city twice, and these figures are not reliable.
They are false estimates of what this repair will
cost, said Brown.
This problem of controlling the
parks maintenance operations has been on the
table for 18 months, and everyone present at the
meeting voiced their opinion how important it is
to agree on a resolution. Jung said he is sick
of this dragging on, and Presiding Commissioner
Betty Knight said the county has given the city
multiple opportunities to correct the problem, and
their chances are running out.
Its critical for the
city to repair the park, said Knight. Weve
been patient. We have given you chances to fix the
problem. The county has no cost sharing placed in
our yearly budget. Our original offer to share costs
was $20,000, which still stands. Im not sure
if there is more money available through grants?
There are always the outreach grants (offered by
the county) that total $200,000 a year (for which
the city is eligible to apply).
Knight questioned whether the city
is determined to make something happen
to protect the taxpayers' investment made in the
park property. The countys original letter
gives the city a 90 day period to cure the
material defaults or to take reasonable steps to
cure the defaults, at the park. Knight said
this 90 day window gives the city time to correct
their issues and we need to get busy before
the spring to fix this.
Jung made clear the aldermen do
not have any money set aside in their yearly budget
to pay for maintenance.
My main concern is moving
forward, said Knight. Weve been
dealing with this for more than a year and it came
to a head last spring when we met at the park site
to see the problems during a walk-through. Then
we got nowhere when all the blaming started.
Nowotny said there is a fundamental
disagreement at what state the park was in when
it was handed over.
"It wasnt perfect but
was still in good shape where it could be used,
Nowotney said. The city spent so much time
on their capital improvements that its caused
them to overlook mowing the grass. Thats what
got us here in the first place. Its as simple
as the city keeping up their maintenance. The county
has no grounds to terminate the agreement if the
city does that. It takes care of itself.
Chairman of the Platte City Park
Board, and a coach to teams who play at the park,
Bill Burnett, said the parks board is just
asking for a chance.
Were not in this to
make money, but instead to provide a service to
citizens, said Burnett. We have to either
tell the kids yes or no
whether they will be able to play on these fields
this spring. Soccer begins already in March. I have
seen through this process that nothing can be done
County officials have indicated
they encourage the city to go ahead and sign up
all youths wanting to play soccer and baseball,
saying the programs will go on no matter who is
in charge of maintenance at the park.
Burnett offered his assistance to
organize a volunteer work force to help repair the
park, which was not a widely accepted alternative
by the county. Nowotny called the volunteer force
a major concern for us, and Knight said
its difficult to rely on volunteers.
Burnett also addressed the fact
that a trailer sits on the parks property.
He made clear the park board does not own it and
instead wants to remove it. He said it belongs to
PCAA (Platte County Athletic Association) and said
he heard no response when he contacted the association
to remove the vehicle.
Nowotny said another concern for the county is multiple
complaints received about the walking trails
condition. He said the trails use has diminished
since it is compiled of uneven gravel and needs
to be paved with concrete to provide an even surface.
Burnett took a defensive stance
on the sidewalks topic and attempted to explain
the boards actions and why they have not poured
any concrete yet.
I have not seen a building
permit for the sidewalks yet, said Burnett.
They were originally supposed to be eight
foot wide, but now I hear theyre down to four
feet. Why should we spend money on these sidewalks
if well be evicted as soon as theyre
finished? You dont build a deck on a rental
Nowotny repeated his earlier statement
that the city will not be evicted if the city keeps
up its end of the maintenance agreement.
Plans are for Jung and Brown to
take recommendations to the aldermen at their meeting
next week to begin the process of establishing accurate
repair costs and determine who is responsible for
Knight reiterated the fact that
we need to see costs and actions taken soon.