By Stacy Wiedmaier
Although local organization's holiday parties and meetings are sometimes held in the city's Train Depot, a citizen's request to rent the structure for a party was denied last week by the Parkville Board of Aldermen.
A resident of The Bluffs requested the usage from Mayor Kathy Dusenbery, who said she brought it to the board to make a collective decision. If the building was rented to a resident, an ordinance was needed.
City Administrator Joe Turner suggested city staff could draft an ordinance to set the rental fee at $75 per hour with a refundable deposit of $200. The renter would be required to clean the premises before their deposit was returned. Potential hazards were discussed among the board, including the limited amount of parking.
“I don't think we need to be in the business right now of renting it out,” said Ward 1 Alderman Deborah Butcher. “The trains pass so closely that safety would also have to be considered. The parking lot is so small, we don't want people parking across the street at the university and crossing the busy highway or at the Farmer's Market and walking on the tracks.”
The board members also questioned whether a safety waiver would need to be signed by the resident renting the facility. The idea was ultimately scrapped with the understanding that Butcher would explain the safety issues to the citizen who resides in her ward and no vote was needed.
The Train Depot has served several functions in the past, including acting as the home for city hall and later the temporary home for Parkville's animal shelter. The building housed city staff member's offices before they relocated. It is currently in use by the Parkville Chamber of Commerce and there are plans to renovate it into a railroad museum in the future.
Another topic of discussion at the meeting revolved around purchasing a $3,600 oil painting titled, “Above and Beyond.” It's a view of the Park University campus and has hung on loan at city hall's north entrance since it opened in August of this year.
“It's a really classy painting,” Turner said.
Helen Wendlandt's original 44 x 60 painting matches the décor of the second floor and is surrounded by large black and white archived prints of past Parkville scenes. Turner suggested the unbudgeted painting be purchased with reserve funds. The Emergency Reserve Fund currently has an amount of $540,521. But, the board had other ideas.
“I know that art is in the eye of the beholder and I own many pieces of art myself. But as much as I would like to purchase it, I cannot support this action,” Butcher said. “The city has so many unfunded and needed projects right now that this is not a priority. In the future, we can probably have one commissioned for about $4,000 if we decide to do so.”
As other board members questioned the painting’s value and necessity, Dusenbery said a letter should be drafted to the artist, thanking her for loaning it.
“We need to tell her how much we appreciate her action, but that we cannot purchase it at this time,” Dusenbery said.
She suggested that Butcher meet with local historian Carolyn Elwess to choose “a more economical archival print” to display with the others since the public enjoys them so much. The mayor stated she was confident the board made the right decision for the city by deciding not to purchase the painting.
The board's next regular meeting will be held Wednesday, Jan. 2 at city hall instead of the usual Tuesday evening due to the holiday. Dusenbery will give her annual “State of the City” address at this time.