Tasch and Babe Mann parks among priorities for aldermen

By Kellen Olshefski


In a Committee of the Whole meeting night, City of Elkhorn Councilmen hashed out what their priorities would be for capital improvement projects in the upcoming years.

In a memo to councilmen, City Administrator Sam Tapson said about $238,000 of 2014 debt proceeds will remain unspent after all 2015 projects are complete and the estimated reserve balance in the capital fund is more than $1 million. After taking out 25 percent of the balance for East Geneva Street improvements, Tapson’s memo said the council could consider an additional $750,000 in projects.

Among topics of discussion, Tapson mentioned improvements at Babe Mann and Tasch parks at Monday night’s meeting as potential projects for the non-debt proceeds the city has accumulated over the years by contributing to the capital improvement fund.

While estimates for athletic field improvements at the parks were extremely costly, Tapson explained the estimates from City Engineer Paul Vanhenkelum were for the “uber design,” the best possible product and a substantial amount of pieces of the project could be dialed back to lower the estimates.

“Between the two, doing it the ultimate, would be close to $1 million and we know we’re not going to do that,” he said.

“But, if there are commitments to go in the direction of Babe Mann and, or Tasch, then I think we get serious about a task order to really do the engineering, the design, the bid to get it going.”

“But at the end of the day, we need to know there are X dollars at our disposal and it’s not $700,000,” he continued.

With moving in the direction of the two parks seemed to be a consensus among councilmen, Alderman Scott McClory noted an important aspect to refurbishing Babe Mann Park: Proctor Drive.

“To me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put in two, or even just one, brand-new ball diamonds at Babe Mann Park and the road is completely destroyed and it’s falling apart,” he said, noting even if only two teams were to play at the park each night, it’s hundreds of cars traveling down Proctor Drive.

McClory said he’d rather see improvements done in steps, maybe doing a couple of ball fields at the two parks and spending some of the money on beginning to reconstruct Proctor Drive.

“It’s really not encouraging this brand-new ball diamond,” he said. “In my opinion it’s the proverbial putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.

“I’d rather spend a substantial amount of money getting that road at least to where you can drive on it … it’s a nightmare, it’s just in a horrific state.”

Overall, councilmen agreed they would like to see options on what types of things could be done at the two parks and with the road, allowing them to get a sense of what they can do with the funds available to them.

Moving forward, Tapson asked what the council would like to see left in reserves.

Mayor Brian Olson suggested the city leave a minimum of $150,000 in reserves, which would meet the about 25 percent recommended by City of Elkhorn Finance Director James Heilman.


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