Raytown Park Board Votes to Close SuperSplash in 2015
On September 15, the Raytown Park Board voted to close SuperSplash Water Park for one year while a plan could be studied for the future of the entire park system.
“Generally, it was about the numbers,” said George Mitchell, Board Chair. “For several years the city has subsidized Super Splash as the park aged and operations costs increased. It was a difficult decision; it’s really all about the numbers. We had to be realistic about the future of the park and sustaining the park fund for the long term.” READ MORE
Raytown Board of Aldermen Budget Hearing – September 2, 2014
Mahesh Sharma told the Board they have hired Ben Hart to help with the Budget process since the Finance Director resigned. Total expenditures will increase 4% over the last budget. There has not been a significant pay increase in three years, and he is proposing a 4% pay increase across the board for all city employees. The final budget will be presented to the Board on October 7, 2014.
Doug Jonesi, with the EMS department, said they have purchased new ambulances and upgraded the radio system. They will reduce overall expenses by 5% in the upcoming year.
Public Works director, Andy Noll, said the clean-up coupon program is going well. The Google Fiber installation is almost complete. They plan to monitor the GIS data base to find the sewer backups and correct before it becomes a problem to homeowners. The GPS upgrade for vehicles is saving the city money. They plan on spending $250,000 this year on the 83rd Street Bridge and $350,000 in the next fiscal year. They are not expecting any growth in sales tax revenues. The city plans to spend $75,000 for the KCATA bus system. The budget includes $800,000 for the City Hall renovations. There is also a provision to replace police and public works vehicles.
John Benson, the Public Affairs director, told the Board the ads in the City’s newsletters help offset the cost of sending it out. They have sold 2 out of the 3 rehab houses the city purchased. They will send out requests for bids for the new animal services contract.
Police Chief Jim Lynch said the radio upgrade is ongoing. He reminded the Board that the City had partnered with Verizon on the infrastructure upgrade and saved about $6.5 million. The police department is looking to install a mobile ticketing system in the police vehicles that will tell the officers any outstanding warrants. They are also looking to provide body cameras to the uniformed officers. They need to purchase five mobile finger-printing ID kits. There is a provision in the budget to upgrade the police building.
Judge Tracy Fann told the Board she hopes to work with the new Finance Director to install online payments for municipal tickets. She also would like to replace two printers and a few office chairs. Alderman Ertz said the Legislative Committee has been trying for two years to increase the fines for municipal offenses such as speeding. So far, the General Assembly has not voted on that.
Park Board director, Kevin Boji, said in the past year, they replaced the equipment in two playgrounds, upgraded the tennis courts in Coleman Park, and were looking to acquire a new park on the north side of Raytown. This year’s budget will spend $50,000 in maintenance at Super Splash. Mayor Bower asked if the Park Board doesn’t spend the necessary money on maintenance, how will Super Splash stay open. Mr. Boji said they had to reduce expenditures in order to balance the budget.
Alderman Aziere said it would appear the Park Board is doing as little maintenance as possible in preparation of closing Super Splash in the near future. Mr. Boji said everyone knows there have been challenges and significant losses at Super Splash. The Park Board will have to make some difficult decisions in the future.
Mr. Boji said there will be a new basketball program in partnership with the Raytown Schools. The Park Board will handle the registrations and cover the cost of the uniforms, supervisors, and referees. The School District will provide the gyms and prepare the schedules.
Alderman Creamer said the parks sales tax is supposed to be set aside to pay for the parks. Every park costs money. The families need a place to go and the parks belong to all of us.
Alderman Josh Greene said Super Splash lost over $100,000 last year.
He asked if the City should keep hemorrhaging money or do we save the rest of the parks. He wants to keep Super Splash open if possible. He also said the BMX Park is being overlooked. He knows they are trying to get a national race. He wants the Park Board to push for this. It will benefit all of Raytown if the race is held here.
Alderman Aziere said three years ago, the Park Board went before the Board of Aldermen and said Super Splash manager quit. They said Super Splash wouldn’t open unless the Board approved the management company.
Mr. Boji said the management company would run efficiently. Super Splash lost a lot of money with that management company. He also pointed out that ten years ago, attendance at Super Splash was approximately 73,000 people.
Five years ago it was in the neighborhood of 46,000 people. Last year, the attendance was 26,000 people. A lot of money will have to be spent in maintenance if Super Splash is going to stay open, a lot more than what Mr. Boji has budgeted.
Alderman Van Buskirk said he noticed the shingles on the roof of the shelter house in Kenagy Park were missing. He wanted to know when that was going to be fixed. Mr. Boji said the damage was done when the storm came through on July 30. They are waiting on the insurance company settlement before making repairs.
Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS
My job at the Raytown Report is both a blessing and a curse. I love to watch the Board of Aldermen meetings and actually enjoy sharing with the public what exactly is going on at City Hall. I believe the more knowledge out there for the public to consume, the better off we are.
That being said, the downside is some of the stuff that spills out of our elected officials mouths. It makes you ache to hear it – it even hurts your fingers to type it. But if it is what gives an accurate picture of what goes on – so be it!
This week’s Paul Livius Report is one such example. I am glad to tell the story, but some of what was said, and, just as important, things that were NOT said (but should have been said) makes the story hard to report.
I will start with the simple and advance to the more complex.
Ward 1 Joe Creamer said . . . “the parks sales tax is supposed to be set aside to pay for the parks. Every park costs money. The families need a place to go and the parks belong to all of us."
Wow. Let me take that in. I think he left out the part that the water in the pool was wet! If you have something to say, say it. But spewing out that bit of wisdom really added nothing to the debate.
Okay. That’s out of my system.
There were some intelligent comments in the debate as well. Jason Greene asked rhetorically how long we could stand to see SuperSplash lose money in the six figure range before we finally admit this is not working.
Jim Aziere made some very good points about the declining use of the pool. Even in the god- awful heat two years ago the pool saw a historical decline in attendance.Bill VanBuskirk mentioned how the roof of one of the buildings was damaged and needed repair. Kevin Boji, the Director of the city’s Parks Department said they were waiting on the insurance company to settle the claim. It made me wonder: that if it was Kevin’s home in Riverside, Missouri that was damaged if he would wait months before repairing it? (The damage was caused by a storm in July!)
What is most bothersome about the debate was that one of the most poignant arguments was not brought up. People do not feel safe at SuperSplash. Anyone who tells you otherwise is being less than honest.The reality is the population of Raytown has changed. We do not have the numbers of young children that used to fill up SuperSplash on hot summer days. Our population is aging. At one time SuperSplash was the ONLY game in town when it came to municipal water parks. Not so anymore. There many more, both private and public that offer a lot more for the money, have more convenient hours, and offer a degree of safety that is not present at Raytown’s pool.
SuperSplash will continue to be a drain on the local economy, siphoning much needed tax dollars that could be spent on repairing our other parks, our streets, the list goes on and on. Maybe the Board of Aldermen will start to have some honest conversations to address the problem. If last week’s meeting was any example, we may have to wait a long, long time.
FIT BOTTOMED EATS BY KARENButtermilk Oven-Fried
My last When In Rome post made us realize that comfort food doesn’t necessarily have to be congruent with heavy, greasy, “I need to take a nap” food. I’ve often wondered how eating something that sits like a rock in your belly and makes you feel like hell afterward was ever awarded the nickname comfort to begin with.
Oven-fried chicken is just as tasty as deep-fat fried, is actually easier to prepare and won’t tempt you to loosen the top button of your trousers and make a beeline for the couch. Whip up a batch of mashed cauliflower like this one from EatingWell magazine, serve the obligatory green beans and iced tea, and you’ll have one fine Sunday meal. READ MORE
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