City parks recovering from delays

Heavy rains in June took a toll on the Pickerington Park and Recreation Department in the form of flooding, delays on the new disc golf course and lost income at the new pool.

When Sycamore Creek overflowed its banks June 26, away swept the mulch that covered Victory Park’s playground. The cost to replace the mulch would have been $2,000.

The city had already planned to replace the playground after the Violet Festival ended on July 26, therefore instead of ordering the mulch, they chose to erect a fence around the area instead.

Parks director Steve Carr said a company volunteered to demolish the playground for free so they could sell the scrap metal. Originally, a group from Huntington Hills planned to dismantle the equipment and reassemble it in its subdivision, but the group concluded that the structures were not safe.

Demolition of the playground will coincide with the removal of two large trees that the city arborist recommends be destroyed due to cracking.

A new playground for elementary-age children should be completed this fall followed by a second set of equipment for younger children, Carr said.

Money for the project already has been collected from impact fees on new homes.

The flooding damaged Sycamore Park as well. Rushing water destroyed the outfield fences of the two softball fields requiring an estimated $11,000 in repairs, Carr said.

Water ruined a putting green, debris littered the skateboard park and a chunk of asphalt the size of a table washed into the parking lot. City officials could find no missing pavement from within the park.

Pickerington’s flood insurance has a $100,000 deductible. The city is researching whether it has other insurance that may more reasonably cover the cost.

"I’ve been here 10 years and that’s the first time I have seen anything like that from Sycamore Creek," Carr said.

Damp conditions also have delayed construction of the city’s new disc golf course at Simsbury Park. It was originally slated to open in July.

"I know this has drug out a lot longer than any of us would have liked," Carr said.

Several holes have drainage issues, paths need repaired and grass must be seeded.

Carr plans to meet with City Manager Tim Hansley to create a new time line for completion of the course by fall.

"I think the course will be something to be proud of," Carr said. "We’ll try to put together a target date and move backwards."

One possibility the parks department is considering would be to open the course only to the finished holes.

The rain also hurt the June attendance to Pickerington’s new swim facility, although May drew crowds, Carr said.

Projected profits for the pool through July were $250,000 and as of June it had earned $225,000. Memberships totaled 725 as compared to 697 last year.

Councilwoman and pool member Tricia Sanders said the pool has been doing well.

"Sunday it was more crowded than I have ever seen it," Sanders said. "That’s good."

The city incurred some unexpected charges for the facility including a new pool pump and replacement appliances for the concession area.

At the Aug. 5 council meeting, the parks department will request money from the city’s aquatic fund to repay an unexpectedly high number of refund demands.

"The bulk (of those seeking refunds) are non-residents who don’t understand why other people pay less, even though they are not paying more than last year," Carr said.

This fall, Pickerington plans to invite the directors of other central Ohio pools to a forum on how to more effectively manage the facility.

In addition, it will send two volunteers from the water department to "pool school" to learn about pumps and chlorine levels. Two parks department employees completed the course already.

"We will make year two better and smoother than year one," Carr said.

Also new to the parks department will be the community garden planned for near Shawnee Crossing east of State Route 256.

It will be modeled after the community garden in Grandview that began as a World War II Victory Garden.

Carr said the garden should be a fairly inexpensive facility with a small parking lot and a fence to deter deer.

"The four-legged vandals will be our biggest issue," Carr said.

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