Tight budget threatens city parks

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 06:20 PM

Monroe City Council will have to take a hard look at the city parks this budgeting cycle. 

"We've got nine active park areas," Interim City Manager Greg Demko said. "We can probably afford four." 

Dangerous, old or non-compliant equipment is currently being removed from the parks. 

Demko proposed they focus on four key parks: Belk-Tonawanda Park, The Winchester Center, The Dickerson Center and Parks Williams Athletic Complex. 

He showed council photos taken at various parks, including sidewalks that have fallen into disrepair at the Winchester Center. 

"We can do better," Demko said. 

He added that it would be better to offer the best quality the can instead of watering them all down. 

The city would scale back on the other five parks. 

Demko noted that surrounding municipalities are planning parks. 

"Our parks can be superior," Demko said. 

He added that they can make four of them superior. They cannot afford nine. 

At the planning meeting, Demko also addressed more long-term plans. He would like to update the land use plan, which is 12 years old. He would also like to update the eight-to-ten-year-old parks plan and the trails plan. He would like to eventually combine them to make a comprehensive plan. 

There will be an increase in healthcare costs that the budget must take into account. Demko would also like to replace a few of the 37 positions that were eliminated during the last budgeting cycle. 

Other goals he presented to council included improving neighborhoods and improving property values. He would also like to create incentives to help with home ownership and home improvement.

To that end, the city would like to beautify several areas, including Highway 74 and fire stations. 

He noted that several of the goals are long-term and some could take up to 20 years. 

"It's nothing that we can't do," Demko said. 

The budget process is in its early stages. Demko plans to present a budget to council at the April 16 meeting. After that, there will be public meetings and public hearings to discuss the budget. The council should adopt a final budget in May.