Willmar backs playground rehab
WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee has given preliminary approval to apply for a grant to replace unsafe playground equipment with new playground equipment.
WILLMAR - The Willmar City Council’s Public Works/Safety Committee has given preliminary approval to apply for a grant to replace unsafe playground equipment with new playground equipment.
The committee members voted Tuesday afternoon to support a request from Community Education and Recreation Director Steve Brisendine to apply for the $75,000 grant from GameTime, a playground equipment manufacturer in Fort Payne, Alabama.
The grant requires a dollar-for-dollar match from the city, Brisendine said. The match would be taken from the $150,000 park development budget in the 2015 capital improvement program, of which about $62,000 has been allocated for projects.
Brisendine said he thinks his department has resources available to match the grant. If the grant is approved, the city would receive playground equipment worth $150,000.
The council Sept. 8 ordered removal of unsafe equipment after the Public Works Department’s certified playground safety inspector this past summer found that 43 of 230 pieces of playground equipment in the 28 parks had a potential life-threatening issues and needed immediate removal or replacement.
Since that time, the Public Works Department has been removing the equipment and bringing it to the Public Works garage on Industrial Drive Southwest.
The safety survey gave all playground equipment a priority rating of 1 through 5. The removed equipment was rated No. 1, which called for immediate removal or replacement.
No. 2 means the equipment has major issues which should be addressed in a timely manner.
No. 3 means the pieces have minor things which should be fixed. No. 4 indicates very minor issues. No. 5 represents no issues.
The council will consider the grant application Oct. 5.
In related discussion, the committee was told that inspectors analyzed 22 pieces of playground equipment rated No. 2 and prepared recommendations for the pieces to be removed, repaired or remain as is.
The committee received the report as information and members agreed they wanted further clarification on the recommendations. The report will be considered Monday night.
Also Tuesday, the Public Works/Safety Committee received information from Public Works Director Sean Christensen on air conditioning options for the downtown City Auditorium.
He said the 2014 master plan for the Auditorium noted cooling options as a low priority and listed cooling options in Step 5 of the plan. He said the council decided to complete Step 1, lead abatement; Step 2, replacing the building air handling unit; and Step 3, renovation of the basement gun range.
Christensen said the gun range air handling unit does not indicate a space for a cooling coil, but he said the engineer believes it could possibly be installed. Also, he said there are locations for coils to be installed in the training room and gym air handling units.
Councilman Steve Ahmann said Engan Associates of Willmar did the analysis of the building. “We knew there was no air conditioning,’’ Ahmann said. But he asked if provisions were made in the air handling ductwork to have adequate space and size for the coils.
Christensen said he believes “things were sized correctly’’ for the project. But he said that he was new to the city when the council voted on the project. At some point, he said, “the council drew the line’’ on where to spend the money.
Councilwoman Audrey Nelsen has expressed concern in the past about lack of air conditioning, and she said reviewing the master plan would be helpful. She said the council was in a hurry to do steps one through three, and she asked if the city didn’t think through the process or whether “the ball was dropped’’ somewhere.
Councilman Ron Christianson, chairman of the committee, asked Brisendine about summer use of the City Auditorium.
Brisendine said summer activity has been minimized, but the building is used for noon basketball, tennis in the event of rain, and some sports camps.
(The playground safety inspection report can be found at the City of Willmar website. Click on Sept. 29 on the September calendar, open the Public Works/Safety meeting, and download the agenda attachments).