NP park committee suggested

NEW PARIS — As the only village in Preble County without a park, New Paris’ village council has been working for a while on ways to build one.

Council has had shelter houses constructed by the old Jefferson school, but before they can add more to the soon-to-be park, they have to find a way to fund the demolition of the old Jefferson School.

Still, council has been doing what they can to get picnic tables and other amenities into the space.

Allen Melody came to council during a meeting on Monday, Aug. 7, with the idea of forming a committee and offering a map of the potential park.

“I have come here today to ask council to formally endorse the creation of a “Park for New Paris Committee”,” he said. “What I see that it would look like, is a committee consisting of civic leaders who volunteer their time, skill, knowledge, and enthusiasm to promote the quality of life in New Paris.

“I also recommend that we consider planning for some professionals to be on the committee, as well as members of the clergy, horticultural specialists or professionals, business owners, and entrepreneurs,” he said. “I also ask that the council consider appropriating funds if this committee is created to provide for initial expenses, such as advertisements and other general expenses.

“I have taken it upon myself to have an architect create a drawing for the park, which I have with me. It is to scale. I have posted this drawing online and it has gotten lots of feedback. I would ask that the council take a look at it, to see what that might look like for a committee. The committee created can certainty have this drawing to work with in the future. I just wanted to get on the agenda to see what the council’s thoughts or concerns were regarding this idea.”

After looking at Melody’s map council members agreed it was a good start and thanked Melody for having it commissioned. The only suggestion was from member Teresa Sally-Moss who thought the playground should be closer to the splash pad, so parents could keep an eye on their children easier.

Melody responded, it is a working drawing and can be changed in any way seen fit. He hopes to get a digital version made so it will be easier to edit and change. He also wants to make copies to size and scale so council can keep copies for themselves.

Council member Kathy Smallwood noted, “Funds are going to have a lot to do with this and until we get that building out of there, there’s not a lot of permanent things we can consider.”

When discussing grants available, Melody said, “The more involvement we have within the community, the more grassroots movement that we have, that can improve our chances of winning grants. Whereas the previous grants posses some of those elements, but not all of them. The biggest concern was the story behind the park. In my mind, it’s creating civil mindedness and nurturing the common good.”

“I have to say that, I don’t know that we would object to have any help looking around for idea, money, and grant proposal,” Smallwood said. “We have to start somewhere.”

“That’s why I suggest that the council endorse the committee,” Melody noted.

“There is a committee,” Mayor Rick VanWinkle said. “We are still looking for money and still waiting to hear from Representative Jeff Rezabek as far as taking the building down. We have not heard back. Council has in the past approved up to $150,000 and that is when we were looking at matching grant and we were going to take a loan out. There are things in process. It’s nice to have community input.

“First things first, you have to get the building down before you can do anything. You can’t do anything until you get that down.”

When asked how much money he was seeking for the committee, Melody suggested $5,000 to $10,000, which council said was too high. Melody responded, council had to show they were willing to contribute, but council members agreed the village cannot allocate that much money on short notice and the community needs to help out however they can.

“Right now we have gone as far with money as we can as a village,” VanWinkle said. “If the community wants this park, they’re going to have to step up.”

Community asked to ‘step up’

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH