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Park board will ignore mayor's letter


by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

Asking for more accountability from the Platte City Park and Recreation Board, Mayor Dave Brooks has launched a campaign of sorts apparently aimed at enlisting more volunteer support from its members.

Fresh off a campaign of his own, Brooks appears to have leveled his sights on the park board, speaking out at local civic events and recent board of aldermen meetings. This past week, Brooks initiated a letter from the board of aldermen that points to the volunteer efforts of others and asks whether or not the park board – in and unto itself a volunteer entity – if they will join in.

“Since the inception of the “Pocket Park” volunteers community wide have donated material, equipment and most valuable of all their time. We are writing to inquire as to what extent or what amount of time the Park and recreation board (the members) are willing to give in the creation of the park.”

The letter, which was signed by the entire board of aldermen, asked the park board to respond to the aldermen by Friday. After actions taken by the park board on Monday evening, such a reply doesn’t seem likely.

“Nobody from the board wanted to respond to the letter,” said Dick Stephens, director of the Platte City Parks Board. “Basically it became a non-issue for us.”

Stephens said the board did make a decision on how to proceed with dealing with the park and the interested parties who have volunteered at the park.

“What we wound up doing was putting the pocket park project back to our buildings, grounds and equipment subcommittee. Then we’ll meet with Olin (Miller) and those who have an interest in the (pocket) park.”

Stephens said that he realized time was running out.

“We have to spend this money by Sept. 1 or we lose this money,” Stephens said about the $13,000 grant from Platte County’s Outreach program. He said that about $11,000 remains in that fund.

Stephens reacted strongly when told that Brooks had questioned aloud at the last meeting of the Platte City Board of Aldermen whether or not park board members were willing to “work with their fingers” in the park.
“That’s not the position of this board,” Stephens told The Landmark. “If (Brooks) wants to count the volunteer hours of this board, I’d be happy to show them to him. How can he try to force a volunteer board to volunteer their labor?”

Stephens pointed out that at this phase of the park’s creation, real tradesmen were needed to complete construction.

“This board is not a concrete pouring, steel reinforcing, unskilled labor pool,” Stephens remarked. “If Brooks wants us to have (the park project), give it to us, and we will proceed like all the parks that we have master planned in the past.”

Stephens pointed out that the pocket park, which was borne out of discussions initiated by current members of the Platte City Area Development Association (PCADA), was never mastered planned. The park board became involved after the PCADA decided to go for the outreach grant and asked the board to sponsor their application.

At last week’s meeting of the PCADA, Brooks mentioned the “need” to form a volunteer committee to overlook the park board in regard to the pocket park project. With two vacancies on the board, Brooks may not have to even do that: the mayor is responsible for appointing new members to the board.


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