The Sedalia Park Board approved creating a new project manager position and the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department’s first Art in the Park project during Thursday night’s meeting.
The board approved the first recommendation from the SPARC (Sedalia Parks Art as Recreation Committee), which had selected Hubbard Park for its first project to coincide with the park’s 100th anniversary in 2021. The committee is comprised of local artists. Sedalia Parks and Recreation Director Amy Epple said a call for artists went out in October and the committee interviewed each artist and conducted site visits.
The committee recommended the project from Sedalia artist Alan Weaver, who proposed creating three functional benches made of concrete and metal that will each be themed with a different musical instrument. This matches the musical theme of the upcoming Hubbard splash pad.
Epple said the committee will continue to visit with Weaver as his project progresses and it will be installed in October.
“This is our first official Art in the Park project, the others in Liberty Park were smaller ones to show how art can be valuable for your community,” Epple said. “It is very valuable to have art in the park, I think it’s important.”
The board also approved hiring a project manager, which will be a new position for the department. However, Epple explained this will not be a new payroll expense, as it will take the place of the assistant parks superintendent position since that employee is retiring soon. She noted the board will see some new positions in the next fiscal year’s budget due to the opening of the Heckart Community Center.
“Between myself and Matt, the parks superintendent, his job really is maintenance, it’s hard and takes a lot of time, especially with the Heckart Community Center and all the contracts we have, to be over there every day and make sure things are correct,” Epple said. “This person would be focused on putting those bid packets together, working with the contractors. Will this position be here forever? I don’t know, it depends on our finances, but I can tell you right now over the next 10 years, it is needed.”
Epple said she believes this new position will help save money in the long run by having a dedicated person in-house to make sure projects run smoothly.
She also noted that the department can’t add a 92,000-square-foot facility and continue its current operations without adding staff members.
Board President Jerry Case said hiring a project manager and additional positions next year is just part of “growing pains” as the department continues to increase its offerings.
During her director’s report, Epple reported things are finishing up with the new playground at Hubbard Park along with a new concrete ping pong table that visitors can use with their own supplies. She said staff is hoping to create similar offerings at other parks, such as concrete cornhole.
All of the graffiti has been removed from the skate park, which Epple explained was necessary to do concrete patchwork repairs. She said the entire park had to be cleaned and sandblasted to be able to patch it. Epple noted the board and staff will need to re-evaluate the park in the next decade or so because “you can only patch so much.”
She also reported that the department has continued hosting recreation programming but that staff has tried to keep everything small or virtual to keep people safe during the pandemic.
Hubbard Park will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and Epple said events are planned for every month. More information about the events will be announced throughout the year.
The City of Sedalia is in the process of planning the budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22. Epple shared her planning presentation with the Park Board on Thursday, highlighting 40 accomplishments of 2020 and offering an idea of what is to come in 2021.
Maintenance plans for 2021 include:
• Dugouts at Hubbard, Housel and Vansell fields.
• Security cameras at Katy Park
• Roof improvements at shelters, Liberty Park Stadium and maintenance building.
• Slides painted and resurfaced at Centennial and Liberty pools.
• Phase two of replacing trash cans.
• Adding shade areas to playgrounds.
• Additional staff.
• Painting Liberty and Centennial pools.
• Tree care and planting.
• New parking lot at Hubbard Park.
• Archery and disc golf improvements.
Recreation plans for 2021 include:
• Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Hubbard Park.
• Mail an activity guide to all 65301 residents.
• Hire a recreation superintendent.
• Upgrade the department’s registration system.
• Increased programming for tweens, teens and seniors.
• Trips and tours, as COVID permits.
• Youth baseball All-Star tournament.
• New tournaments.
• Volunteer appreciation.
• New community garden.
• Adding more Art in the Park.
Special projects for 2021 include opening the Liberty Park train during Memorial Day weekend, opening a splash pad at Hubbard Park in June, phase three of Light Up Liberty, and pop-up park events.
The Park Board will go over a detailed budget at the February meeting and will approve the final budget in March. The city’s fiscal year begins April 1.