Parks and Recreation Commissioner Rachel Brix updated fellow commissioners and the public Monday night with developments on the Harmon Dog Park project. Commissioners also delved into the Lake Leatherwood master plan and reluctantly accepted a resignation during its 90-minute meeting.
Brix said she had been working with Economic Development Coordinator and City Preservation Officer Glenna Booth and Parks and Recreation Director Bruce Levine to develop a partnership with Carroll County and has been working with them on information about grants that could help fund the proposed dog park in Harmon Park.
Brix said she would know in eight to 10 weeks whether their grant applications were going to pay off. She added she had just finished a proposal to present to local businesses receptive to donating to the project in some fashion.
"The proposal explains the dog park," she said, "what we're using it for, why we need it, goals, measurements toward goals, everything. I'll be presenting that in next Dog Park Committee meeting tomorrow night at the library annex. It includes endorsements from Mayor Pate, the Good Shepherd Animal Shelter manager, and Bruce has given us one from Parks and Rec."
Brix read the short letter from Levine into the record, and the commission voted unanimously to approve the endorsement.
Chairman Bill Featherstone did sound one note of doubt. "I'm not entirely sold on the park being in Harmon Park," he said, "although I am very much in support of the park in general. But I wasn't sold on the skate park being in Harmon Park either, and I was wrong, so I might be wrong here too. The ground in question is not currently used for much of anything nor has been for quite some time, and this project is the highest and best use of the place, far more so than the way its currently being used or any other option available to us now. My only reluctance is mixing dogs with other stuff there. But the park could work out beautifully there; I certainly hope it does."
At the meeting Featherstone announced with regret the resignation of Commissioner Stephen Foster, saying "I have spoken with him and understand his thinking. I think the decision was multi-faceted, but primarily his plate's not big enough for everything that needs to be on it, and something had to go. But I would like to extend my personal gratitude, and I know I speak for the commission, in thanking him for the service he gave. In the time he was here, from my point of view, we made more progress than we've been made since I started, largely due to his involvement. But he's one of those all-or-nothing kinds of people and didn't feel he could give it his all, so he will be missed. He was a major contributor. Maybe we'll get lucky and cross his path again."
Regarding the Lake Leatherwood Master Plan, Levine said he and Parks' consultant Will LaPage had met with ES high school principals to discuss the large educational component of the plan, which includes utilization of the park as an outdoor learning laboratory for students in numerous disciplines.
There will a tax initiative on the November ballot which will direct an eighth of a percent sales tax to fund the Leatherwood plan.
"It wasn't obvious to me at first," said Commissioner Draxie Rogers, "that this tax is only 12.5 cents on $100, which isn't much. And I don't want citizens hearing that once we get the master plan in place we'll starting hitting them up for more taxes. That is not the case."
Featherstone added if the $100,000 per year for four years was all the tax provided, the would do what they can with what they had. "In the best case, the whole thing takes off and we get everything done out there as fast as we can."
Featherstone added while he can't stand taxes, he loves Leatherwood. "And this is the best plan they have right now," he said. "Leatherwood deserves one-eighth of one percent in the form of a general use tax."
Levine said a tour of Leatherwood Park for those interested is planned for Tuesday, October 23 at 1:00 p.m. at the front entrance. "We're going to traverse the park and show some of the elements of the master plan as we go into the park itself," he said. "Also, there will be a public hearing that week on Thursday, Oct. 25, here at the courthouse upstairs at 7:00. The public is welcome."
Levine added the master plan is online and downloadable at eurekaparks.com.