Officials in the village of West Liberty openly discussed Thursday in a special meeting proposing a local parks for the March 17, 2020 ballot to fund maintenance and upkeep of village parks, including maintenance of lights for the ball fields at Dodge Park.
The West Liberty Ball Association and West Liberty Village Council may soon host a joint community public meeting to discuss funding for proposed lighting projects at Dodge Park.
Council members met with the ball association representatives Thursday to discuss concerns about the lighting phase.
During the last regular meeting, councilwomen Jayne Griffith and Jill McKelvey expressed concern about being “on the hook” for costly lighting for the Dodge Park project for a new baseball field.
“It’s a hard sell to our taxpayers to budget $50,000 a year (for park lighting),” said Councilman Michael Hostetler.
Mayor Greg Hostetler agreed.
“The big picture is that this is a great project,” he said. “But we have streets that need to be redone — repaved. The cost of doing business day-to-day and do improvements to the village.”
And the ball association is unable to take out a loan for the lighting, said Gretchen Lapp, ball association secretary.
And another problem is that the village owns the park, said Matt Hull, board president for the ball association.
“We have invested a lot of money into that ballpark,” he said. “We’re great fundraisers, but to get these lights we can’t do it. For these lights we are going to rely on the village.”
And as far as fundraising, Hull said “the community is just tapped out.”
But council members and ball association board members agree, they all want to see the Dodge Park project succeed.
“I want these lights and I want them a lot,” Griffith said. “I want great things to come from this ballpark. I want college scholarships coming from this ballpark. We have a great program. The problem is coming up with money.”
“We need to find a way to work with you guys and get this to happen for the kids,” McKelvey said. “We’ve got to have a fiscally sound way to do this so the kids win and the taxpayers feel good about it.”
Hull suggested a parks levy.
Councilman Hostetler further suggested a 0.1-mill parks levy that for the spring ballot, which could bring in about $20,000 per year.
McKelvey said she was in support of hosting a community public meeting.
“If we’re all on the same page one night, everybody’s voice is the same, the message isn’t distorted,” she said.
“It will be the first meeting that will show, ‘Hey we’re united even though we disagree on a few things,’” Lapp said. “Plus, there’s always somebody out there who may have a different and better idea.”
Lapp said she would ideally like the meeting to happen within the next few weeks.
The next regular village council meeting is Nov. 11.