NPCPF asks for open communication from council

By Kelsey Kimbler -

NEW PARIS — New Paris Community Park Foundation (NPCPF) is asking New Paris Council to notify them of any upcoming meeting regarding the New Paris Park Project and to keep lines of communication open between the two parties.

NPCPF submitted a letter to council, which Mayor Kathy Smallwood read into the record during the council meeting on Monday, May 4. The letter spoke about the importance of open communication between collaborators and a “breakdown” of communication which occurred between the two parties in question.

The letter addresses a meeting which was held to discuss the Splash Pad. According to the letter, members of NPCPF were not invited to be present and discuss the project as peers.

Mayor Smallwood addressed the letter directly following her narration.

“I will tell you, this is not the council’s problem, this is my problem. It was entirely my fault. I didn’t just say, ‘No,’ but we were under a Stay Home Order and we were limited to the number of people who could gather. My thinking was — and this is what I told Luther, I can pull up my little message and read it if you need me to — I wanted to keep it under 10 people, or at 10,” she said.

“I didn’t know how many people were coming from Mote and I didn’t know how many people were coming from the splash pad people. We did have the Park Committee members from council there to report back. No decisions were made. Nothing was done, other than we got the first little bit of information that we need to proceed.

“I apologize. Don’t blame council, this was my fault, but during circumstances I didn’t feel like I could ask people other than elected officials who are part of the government and kind of required to do things to come out and join us.”

Brad Hampton accepted the apology from the mayor, but council member Ralph Dungan responded to the letter, which was signed by Hampton.

“They mayor of this village has the authority to do what she did, whether the park committee likes it or not. She rules the village in regards to the safety and well being of everybody in here, whether it upsets the park committee or not,” he said.

“We still keep going back to the same thing I said when I was on the park committee, before the park committee was ever designed, this is a park that belongs to the village of New Paris. It doesn’t belong to the Dayton Foundation, it doesn’t belong to the Chamber of Commerce, it belongs to the Village of New Paris. It is up to the mayor and council to dictate how that park is designed and where it goes from point A, to B, to C, to D.

“In regards to the mayor, I applaud her for what she did.”

“We understand and that is why we come to you before and it is written in our bylaws that we come to you before we do anything, because you guys do have the final say. That is why we have the joint work sessions, so we can work together and you have the final say,” Hampton said.

He also updated council on a grant through Reid Hospital NPCPF is hoping to apply for to add exercise equipment and new basketball goals. Council gave the foundation permission to apply for the grant.

In other news, Susan Laux with Mote & Associates updated council on asbestos remediation and the splash pad project.

She said, they performed the second testing at the old school building for asbestos, which came back negative. Any remaining plaster and skim coat will be demolished with the building. She noted, there is insulation wrap that needs to be removed, which was not in the original contract. She presented two quotes to council for that work and council voted to proceed with the lowest quote.

Laux also presented pictures of proposed work at the splash pad, based on the budget given to the company, which was $25,000. She discussed the different specifics of this option for the splash pad, which is cheaper but can be expanded in the future.

“No decision has been made. This is only one person that we met with,” Laux said.

She is also in conversations with Jeff Sewert from Lewisburg regarding the company the village used for their splash pad.

Laux also presented an updated Sources and Uses of Funds list for the park project, which detailed where the village stands with the project overall.

Council voted to approve Laux applying for an extension of the grant completion on the village’s behalf, since the project has been postponed due to the additional asbestos.

New Paris will have its next regular meeting on Monday, June 1, at 7 p.m. in the NP Municipal Building.

By Kelsey Kimbler

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

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