By Michael Howell
After hearing from Greg Marose at the last Hamilton City Council meeting, the Council indicated that it may continue to call the American Legion Park by that name, rather than shortening it to Legion Park, and will replace the dedication plaques that were removed during the recent reconstruction project at the park.
Marose submitted a copy of the deed to the park property which American Legion Post 47 transferred to the City with certain conditions attached. Marose said he would like those conditions in the deed to be honored.
The American Legion transferred the land to the City on the condition that it be used as a park and named the American Legion Park. Another condition was that the dedication plaque bearing the names of five legion members be prominently displayed at the park in the southeast corner.
Marose said that the American Legion was informed that, following the reconstruction, the park would be named Legion Park and that the plaque would be incorporated into the new setting. Then, a week ago, he received the plaques from a legion member and was told that the city was going to throw them away if the legion did not want them.
“I have brought them back to the City Council,” said Marose, “and ask that they be placed in a prominent position for all to see in the park as stated in the deed.” He also asked that the park be named American Legion Park as stated in the deed.
At the end of the meeting, Councilor Al Mitchell said that he believed that City should honor the deed conditions and name the park American Legion Park and replace the plaques in the southeast corner of the park, one of which is missing.
Marose also commented on the use of funds from the sale of the pool property. He said that despite Special Projects Director Dennis Stranger’s contention that the city can use the proceeds any way it wants, the terms of the deed provide that in case of sale of the property the proceeds would be used for park playground facilities or something else for the benefit of the children.
Concerning the recent dissolution of the Park Board, Marose, who was chairman of that board, said, “I am dismayed that the Council did not ask the Park Board to participate in the Committee of the Whole meeting before putting up a resolution to dissolve the board.”
Marose objected to the notion, presented at the COW meeting by Special Projects Director Dennis Stranger, that there was no reason for having a park board since the council had taken over the board’s responsibilities. He said the park board was always merely an advisory board to the Council and that the Council always made decisions. Marose said that subsequently Stranger had set up his own committee to write a tree ordinance and then informed him not to attend. He said Stranger told him he could attend the public meeting when it was held.
“Even with Mr. Stranger trying not to involve the park board there was still an exchange of ideas with board members,” said Marose.
“I assume Stranger and the mayor now have a tree ordinance in the works,” said Marose. He said that Tree City USA, which has been providing grants to the city, requires a Tree Board or a Park Board made up of citizens, not town councilors.
On the agenda for the meeting was the second reading of the city ordinance dissolving the Park Board. Prior to that vote, Parks Director Terry Cole told the Council that the designation of Tree City USA required the city to have a tree ordinance but it did not require a park board.
Councilor Joe Petrusaitis said that he had “mixed feelings” about the elimination of the Park Board. He said maybe there had been some attempts to exceed their authority but that “they have done some good things.”
Councilor Lynette Helgeland said that she had mixed feelings as well. She said that she would prefer to have the Park Board available on a consultation basis.
Councilor Jenny West said that she moved to eliminate the Park Board because the board can’t function without direction from the Council and the Council was not giving them any direction. She said having them serve on an as needed basis would require establishing an ad hoc committee, not a board, but that she now preferred that idea to simply eliminating it.
“We need to be specific in our needs in the future with committees and boards,” she said.
Councilors Munson and Mitchell thanked Marose and the other Park Board members for their years of service. He noted that, if Tree City USA required a board of citizens, the City Council members were all citizens.
“We are citizens and we will do our best,” said Mitchell.
Councilor West suggested that the Mayor send a letter of appreciation to the Park Board members for their service and the Mayor agreed.
Councilor West voted no on the second reading of the ordinance but the other Councilors all voted to eliminate the Park Board.
In other business the City Council:
• approved the submission of a grant application to the Department of Commerce by the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority. The grant funds for job creation would pass through the City and go to Tri-Con Commercial Construction. The company hopes to produce 20 new jobs in the next two years. The total cost of the program is estimated at $236,600. The company is providing $86,830 in matching funds; the remainder will be covered by the grant which provides $7,500 for each new job created.
• continued the public hearing concerning a needs assessment for CDBG grant funding until March 5, at which time a separate public hearing on the wastewater treatment project will also be held.
• approved on second reading changes to the Clear Sight Triangle regulations for intersections.
• approved the sale/disposal of two street sweepers.