Share thoughts about sale, hobby car park April 18

By KELLY GERLACH

News Editor

Two Maquoketa parks may be sold.

A radio-control car park may be built.

What do you think about these possible changes in Maquoketa recreation?

Share your thoughts about these issues with the Maquoketa Parks Board next week before the board makes a final recommendation for action to the Maquoketa City Council.

The public input session will be 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 18. The session will be informal, with no specific presentation, according to volunteer board chairman Scott Warren. People can come and go as they please.

“We will set up tablet paper, give people the opportunity to write down their thoughts and concerns,” he said. “In addition, we will have a video and storyboard showing the potential layout for an RC park.”

Tale of two parks

There is no such thing as too many parks, Warren said, unless the city lacks the resources to adequately care for them.

“If you look at Maquoketa’s population density, there are too many parks and not enough resources,” he said. “There aren’t enough people the right age to use them. 

“Why are we keeping them if we can’t afford improvements at the parks we have? If we pare down the number [of parks], that leaves more resources for the parks we have. We want to maximize what we have,” Warren added.

The Maquoketa Parks Board inventoried the city’s parks, focusing on their use and condition. Lisa and Crawford parks appeared to be the most underutilized, Warren said.

Lisa Park is the smaller of the two, located at the corner of Lisa and Cynthia drives. It is smaller than a standard house lot; it was given to the city as a leftover parcel when the housing addition was built, Warren was told.

Lisa Park features one white horse that rocks on a metal frame and a fire truck created from metal pipes and barely painted red.

Crawford Park, located off Dearborn Street, covers two housing lots. It includes monkey bars, a slide, swings, two rocking horses and teeter totters, all in a straight line and surrounded by mulch.

Both parks with their minimal older, rusting equipment are located in the northeast side of town, which is flush with parks, Warren said.

Between Pershing Road and Briggs Elementary, parks include the one at Cardinal Elementary, Lisa Park, Crawford Park, Burlingame Field, First Ward Park, Grove Street, and Little Bear Park.

The city and community could benefit from selling the two parks, Warren said, noting that he thought Crawford could be sub-divided into two residential lots.

“The city is paying to maintain them now,” he said. If the city sells, it will “save money by not having to maintain it. It may not sell for a profit, but it could go back on to the tax rolls.”

But, there might not be a sale if enough residents explain benefits of keeping the parks, Warren said.

Radio-control car park

Shane Halverson of Maquoketa proposed building a radio-control car park with four tracks at Fifth Ward Park. He would build the four tracks this summer, using a lot of lime, dirt and mulch to keep costs down to between $2,000 and $3,000.

The tracks would do no damage to the park, Halverson said, and could easily be dozed if it was not used.

The public would be able to use the tracks any time during regular park hours. Two to four special racing tournaments could be held in the summer to help recoup the cost of building the RC car park, Parks Board members suggested during a meeting a couple weeks ago.

Almost 100 Maquoketa residents signed a petition to keep the RC car park out of their Fifth Ward Park neighborhood. Some signers said they were concerned about possible loud noise from the cars and a possible increase in traffic from the park’s use.

The future of the two parks and the radio-control car park won’t be decided until after the Parks Board hears public input and makes recommendations to the council.

“We would first like to collect feedback from the citizens that live around those areas and assess whether or not this would result in a negative impact to the neighborhoods nearby,” City Manager Gerald Smith said. 

Those who cannot attend can send their comments and concerns to Warren at swarren@scottcountyfamilyy.org,

Other park activities

Meanwhile, the Parks Board continues planning and improvements in other areas of the city. 

The skate park was resurfaced and Maquoketa High School’s welding students are building some new equipment for it.

The board is writing grants with the goal of buying and installing a new play structure at the Grove Street ball diamonds. The board wants to buy the new equipment in spring 2020.

The Fifth Ward Park tennis courts will be resurfaced in May, including lines for people to play pickleball. 

Also, the board is researching adaptive play structures to make First Ward Park more handicap-accessible for children, Warren said.