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Tue, March 19

Parks haven’t been adequately funded, but that could be changing

Playground equipment in Kingman may be replaced by the amount of usage rather than which pieces are the oldest.

Playground equipment in Kingman may be replaced by the amount of usage rather than which pieces are the oldest.

KINGMAN – The City’s parks may soon get some much-needed attention thanks to Council’s Fiscal Year 2018-2019 recommended budget increasing parks and recreation funding by about $330,000.

“The budget for this year for this type of capital outlay was $10,000,” said Jim Bacon, interim city manager. “You can’t do the job in this city’s park system when it comes to equipment with that kind of funding.”

Not all of the more than $300,000 will go to equipment improvement. About $138,000 will go toward two additional groundskeepers to help improve park maintenance. However, $186,000 is currently recommended for capital outlay projects in FY 2019.

Kingman’s parks may not be in the same state of disrepair as its streets, but they aren’t far off. Some playground equipment is 20 to 25 years old, and Mike Meersman, parks director, said the shelf life of playground equipment is between 10 and 15 years.

City staff and Council discussed replacing the oldest playground equipment first, but Councilmembers Jamie Scott Stehly and Travis Lingenfelter thought it would make more sense to first address equipment at the most used parks.

“I really think that we need to start at the parks that are the highest used, and then work our way in future fiscal years to parks where age is maybe a factor,” Lingenfelter said.

Ron Foggin, incoming city manager, explained his passion for parks and said they shouldn’t be discussed in terms of useful life. He argued that park equipment should instead be reevaluated as times and tastes change.

“Part of keeping parks relevant and usable is adding shades to them, but it’s also a matter of keeping up with the times and what kids will play on,” Foggin said.

Lingenfelter also thinks the City needs modern playground equipment. He said nice playground equipment at nice parks helps to “recruit and retain working families.”

Stehly believes Kingman should be more proactive about the state of its parks, rather than reacting to their conditions. She said one way to do that is by conducting a public survey asking citizens what parks they would like to see revitalized. Developing long-term parks goals is another way.

“We have a lot of kids and a lot of families who live here and parks are a very important thing, and it’s awful that we have neglected them for so long,” Stehly said. “I truly believe that in this next year we should invest in a long-term comprehensive parks and open space plan.”

Stehly also recommended an expanded scope for parks and recreation. She would like to see multi-use trails and trail development integrated into the parks and recreation budget, a notion that was supported by councilmembers in attendance.

“I think that there’s a lot of support for an urban trails system, and that is something we need to integrate into the budget to the extent we can,” said Vice Mayor Jen Miles.


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