County may close Children’s Park, change parks opening date
ARENAC COUNTY — Arenac County may be shifting the opening date of its county parks and closing another one in an effort to reduce cost overruns in the parks budget.
Joe Sancimino, member of the Parks and Recreation Board, informed the board of commissioners on June 4 about a proposal to move the opening date for county parks from Memorial Day to Father’s Day starting in 2014 as a way to help reduce the parks budget.
“Attendance at the parks is really poor at end of May to the beginning of June,” Sancimino said. “That will save you guys about $10,000 in employee costs, which are really your killer right now.”
The parks board has not set a new opening date for next year, and Sancimino said it likely would not do so until later this year.
He said that among the five park properties controlled by the county — Oasis Lake, Point Au Gres Park, Children’s Park, Youngman Park and Gulvas Park — only three are producing any income for the county, and all needed to be maintained.
With the closure of Gulvas Park, Sancimino said that eliminated one of the money losers, leaving one more: Children’s Park in Standish.
“Children’s park requires a great deal of maintenance,” he said. “It needs a lawn cutting about every week. Other parks are good about for two weeks but this is a week, so I’m shifting personnel and equipment for it.”
Sancimino said the park had been offered to the city twice, but the Standish city council refused to take it over. He said he had been told by a council member that if the county brings up the topic again they would revisit it.
Sancimino said he wants to propose to the city that if they handle the grass cutting, the county will keep the park open. Otherwise, the county would close the park.
“I personally used to use it, and it’s a nice place to sit and have a lunch,” Sancimino said. “But with the cost of maintaining it, it really isn’t a good match for the Parks and Rec (Department) since we’re focused on day and overnight stays, and that one can’t handle overnight. So, it doesn’t have an opportunity to earn money for the parks.”
He explained that the parks board has a tight budget, and usually has needed the county commissioners to provide it with extra appropriations before the end of each year. Closing the park is a tough decision, Sancimino said, but it’s one the department needs to make.
The parks board approved recommending the county close Children’s Park if the city is unable to take over maintenance on it during its own meeting June 4. Sancimino said a letter will be sent to the city informing it of the decision, adding the county commissioners would still need to approve the measure at their next meeting on June 18.