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Tilden Rodgers Park set for slate of improvements

Playground, ball fields to get some much needed TLC

news@theeveningtimes.com

Improvements are coming to Tilden Rodgers Park.

Working through the parks commission and the budget committee West Memphis Parks Director got the green light to move forward on a pair of projects.

New playground structures and a laser leveling of some ball fields top the ticket to improve the attractions at the city park. Re-allocation of line items under the Parks Deportment budget cap made the paid the way for the new work.

Budget Chairman reported to city council about the projects.

“We received information from the parks department that did not require coming to council; they can just make adjustments in their budget,” said Catt. “They are looking to purchase playground equipment and dirt work. It is $40,000.”

Mayor Bill Johnson told the budget committee, “As long as we are on a summary budget we can switch it around.”

With the big Southland Classic Softball Tournament slated for early summer, Parker took the git ‘er done attitude as he outlined the projects. Painting the fences, working on a bathroom, a roof and the dirt work were all made possible by moving money under the parks budget into the development fund.

“Laser leveling of softball fields is a costly item, but it has got to be done,” said Parker. “The tournament is coming up in June and we have already ordered the fence paint. We had $3,000 of damage to the roof of the softball concessions stand with a $5,000 insurance deductible.” The money was moved from the labor line item to park development. Labor at the parks has been slashed over recent years. The department reorganized with more part-time seasonal workers. Parker said even more labor savings can be created because of cost savings on tournaments.

Parker produced the Park’s Department written labor analysis used to consider the fund re-allotment, “We have not found a youth baseball tournament promoter so overtime will be under the allocated amount in the budget.”

The 2016 Parks and Recreation budget line had been $433,138 after the transfer $393,135 will remain available for wages and salaries.

The necessity of the work came from tournament directors that have insisted on upgrades in order to attract bigger tournament fields.

The Southland Classic Tournament director insisted on improvements.

Southern Athletic Fields, incorporated will do the laser leveling and dirt work. Special infield mix, freight and labor cost just over half of the new allotment.

The fund re-allotment option came to the forefront after overtures for the funds failed at the Advertising and Promotion Commission. Tournaments bring tourism. Parker cited the upcoming tournament to explained the rationale for his budget shuffle.

“That is why we are moving forward,” said Parker.

“I haven’t heard anything from them (the A& P) so I asked for the $40,000 shift.”

Parker talked about the cost of new jungle gyms at Tilden Rodgers. The new play structures are set to be next to the pavilions.

“The other thing is two pieces of playground equipment in front of both pavilions,” said Parker. “The pavilion rent is our biggest money maker right now.”

The playground sets cost $7,500 each and keep 27 children occupied. The city jumped on a sale price saving $3,200 per unit. The new ones retire the wooden playground equipment by the pavilions. Parker told the budget committee that installation was another $4,000.

By John Rech

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