Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Community members discuss park improvements


February 8, 2018

Tonia Copeland/Western Nebraska Observer

Children play at the Gotte Park. There was recently an open house to gather ideas from community members for park improvement.

What is your vision for the local parks? Perhaps you would like to see updated landscaping, new equipment, accessible play equipment for the very young or disabled youth or renewed basketball, tennis and volleyball courts.

The City of Kimball hosted an open house at the Kimball Public Library on Jan. 31 to hear thoughts from the community. City personnel presented photos of both Gotte and City Parks, as well as, a power point demonstration.

"Thank you all for coming," City Administrator Dan Dean said. "The intent this evening is to have you identify what you like, what you don't and what you would like to change."

Ideas flowed from dozens of citizens, and while new equipment was discussed, safety was a priority. Suggestions for increased safety measures included new barrier posts surrounding Gotte Park, which are aged and in poor condition, and adding security cameras to both parks.

Vandalism has been a concern, and a hefty cost, at both of the local parks and the municipal swimming pool. Security cameras would deter some of that behavior and allow local law enforcement to apprehend vandals in the future.

Some of the major costs at the parks are the public facilities. Vandals have previously destroyed the interior of the bathrooms, as well as, the outside, going as far as to break or dismantle the sinks and toilets. Leaving them unusable throughout much of the year.

City Streets Supervisor, Jim Shoup, was on hand to answer questions, as was John Heidemann, the Kimball Streets Department worker who generally cares for the parks. Shoup provided books to those present with options for tables, seating, play equipment and other amenities.

"Jim Shoup and John Heidemann are both here, and they run the parks. There is a plethora of information, so if you ask why we do something they will be able to fill you in," Kimball Mayor Keith Prunty said.

The open house was the product of a grass roots movement, Positive Spaces, led by local business owner Heather Entingh. She took her two young children to the park and was disappointed with the state the parks were in.

"The chain link fences are dilapidated and everything is kind of run down," Prunty said. "They just haven't had an influx of capital. This will be the first of many meetings."

Prunty added that some Keno funds are available, while Entingh has raised funds through Positive Spaces. He hopes to present ideas to City Council in June.

"Something I would hope everyone would consider, it is hard to patrol and keep track of (vandalism)," Entingh said. "Positive Spaces has raised about $3,300, which would be a pretty big chunk towards a security system. That would help the Police Department and the parks. It would be something to consider before we put $50,000 into equipment."

Recent vandalism includes holes burned into slides, cut poles and other efforts to destroy play equipment.

"On another note, I know this is a small town, but there is a chance that something terrible could happen to your children," Geneva Withrow added. "Somebody passing through could just drive by the park and happen to see a child 50 feet away from their parents and... how do you know and what can you go on if nobody saw it."

Special Projects Coordinator, Amy Sapp, added that a teacher contacted her and suggested the City work with the schools so older students take ownership in the area as well.

"Those that help will then help 'police' the parks, because they put their sweat into the work being done," Sapp added.

Some students have already offered to remove the old barrier posts, as a service to the community, so new ones could be erected.

Courtesy Photo

This photo shows the horseshoe pits at Gotte Park. Uneven pits, saggy chain link, aged posts and a dead tree are all eyesores and dangers that need to be addressed.

Community members suggested allowing citizens, business and organizations or memorials to 'sponsor' new posts around Gotte Park.

"You have got to have something like (those posts) and I don't like the cable either, or you won't save any trees in the park. Everybody is going to be in there tearing stuff up," Heidemann said.

Other ideas include new ground material under the equipment, a youth gym area and a reading trail that would encourage youngsters to walk along the trail reading excerpts from a book.

The focus was specifically for the local parks, not the ball fields – which are funded through the Park and Recreation Department, along with the golf course.

The community is encouraged to attend future meetings and share ideas for improving Kimball's parks.


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