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City committee proposes using unspent funds for Swansson Field, Taunton Stadium improvements

The proposed project includes the construction of a berm and plaza area along the first base side of Baker Field at Taunton Stadium at a cost of $7,500. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- Unspent 2008 funds would pay for Swansson Field and Taunton Stadium improvements, if the Willmar City Council approves a recommendation from the Public Works/Safety Committee.

The improvements were proposed by Steve Brisendine, director of Community Education and Recreation, and Ron Gilbertson, public works superintendent. They proposed the funds be reappropriated for two projects that could be done yet this fall.

One project is installation of an irrigation system in Swansson's yellow softball field. The $11,500 price from Irrigation Plus is the same as what the city paid last year for Swansson's green field, Brisendine said.

Brisendine said an irrigation system would improve the playing surface for participants. He said Swansson's orange and green fields were completed over the last few years and the playing surface is better due to consistent moisture. He said it makes sense to complete another field, leaving the red and blue fields to complete the entire complex. The other project is construction of a berm and plaza area along the first base side of Baker Field at Taunton Stadium at a cost of $7,500. Brisendine said this would, for the most part, complete all of the work at the stadium other than buildings for future use as locker rooms or clubhouse.

He said the Willmar Stingers baseball club supports the project and would provide some in-kind services or labor and possibly some resources to enhance the project.

The costs for both projects would be covered by $20,000 that the council had budgeted in 2008 for a new or improved warming house at the Garfield School site.

The money has not been spent, however, because the city is discussing but has taken no action on the possibility of acquiring the site from the Willmar School District and renovating the building for city office use.

The committee voted this week to recommend the council reappropriate the funds for the two projects, but the committee also wants the council to discuss the recommendation.

During committee discussion, Ron Christianson asked why the money should be spent when the economy is down and state aid to cities will probably be reduced. He said the funds could be better used for services such as street sweeping or street repairs.

If the funds are not spent this year, the money will go into the general fund of the 2012 budget, said City Administrator Michael Schmit. Under city policy, capital funds that are not used in three years are allocated to the general fund.

In other business, the committee:

- Accepted the donation of an $1,800 inflatable bouncy house from the Willmar Firefighters Association. The bouncy house will be used by the Fire Department for fire prevention activities.

- Approved the final payment of $124,347 to Duininck Inc. for reconstruction of Willmar Avenue and storm sewer and water main work from 18th Street Southwest to Industrial Boulevard. Cost of the contract was $555,908.

- Voted to reduce the retainage from 5 percent to 2.5 percent on the contract with Di-Mar Construction for work on two treatment facility pump stations. The pump stations are substantially complete and the retainage will cover any expenses to fulfill DiMar's remaining contract work.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150