Funds needed for park projects

EAST LIVERPOOL – The Thompson Park board and Superintendent J.C. Blackhurst have big plans for the city park but not a big enough wallet.

Board members discussed on Thursday how they will pay for a number of impending park improvements, including filling potholes, chip-and-sealing or resurfacing the roads, replacing the playground equipment, finishing the softball field dugouts and rewiring the multipurpose field.

Blackhurst said the Columbiana County Engineer’s Office would be willing to do the chip-and-seal work in the off-season if the park board buys the material. The chip-and-seal material ranges in cost from $17,000 to $20,000 per mile, he said.

“That sounds real expensive,” board member Wink Smith said, noting that the park’s two and a half miles of roadway would cost from $40,000 to $48,000.

Blackhurst plans to meet with an engineer’s office representative next week to discuss a hole patching plan. “The winter did a number on (the roads),” he said.

Depending on funding availability, that work could begin in the fall, he said.

The final pour of the concrete portion of the softball dugouts is scheduled to take place today, Blackhurst said. The dugouts will then be ready for the steel columns and the steel roof, he said.

“Once this concrete’s finished, it probably won’t be too very long before the actual dugout is constructed,” he said, noting that the steel will be bolted onto the concrete pad.

Board members discussed at length a project to move a junction box, known as a pedestal, on the multipurpose field and reroute an underground electric line.

Blackhurst said American Electric Power cost estimates range from $3,000 to $8,000 to do the work, which will be split between the utility and the park board. The pedestal needs to be moved to allow for the widening of the field, he said.

“Pedestals are a safety concern. The fewer pedestals, the better,” Smith said.

AEP has given Blackhurst two plans for rerouting the line once the pedestal is moved. He said AEP will move the box and reroute the line from the utility pole to the new location, while the park board is responsible for running the line from the new box to other metered items, he said.

“It’s what we wanted to know,” Smith said, “but it’s not what we wanted to hear.”

Smith said he hopes that work can begin in September.

Thompson Park officials also are looking at replacing the playground equipment – a project that could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Blackhurst and board member Betsy Wells shared information from two playground equipment manufacturers. Wells said installation often is a third of the cost. Smith said the equipment should be tested before any decisions are made.

Board members discussed fundraising options ranging from grants to a campaign.

Also Thursday, the board learned that:

* The annual “Praise in the Park” event is scheduled for Saturday.

* The next “Mayor’s Moonlight Movie” is at dusk July 19, with a showing of “The Lego Movie.”

* The East Liverpool’s Got Talent Music & Arts Appreciation Festival is scheduled for Aug. 16-17 at the Amphitheater.

* An East Liverpool High School marching band car show and fundraiser is scheduled for Sept. 13.

* The website is live, but more photos and text will be added in the weeks to come.