Town officials and community groups inched one step closer to building a public playground in Warsaw last Thursday.
On May 9, town council approved to fund $15,000 of a new initiative, “$30,000 in 30 days,” to purchase playground equipment for the town park.
Town Manager John Slusser called the playground budget for fiscal year 2014 “ambitious” as it required approximately $75,000 in park improvements.
Slusser reported that the town already had budgeted $18,500 for the playground, and that the Warsaw-Richmond County Main Street Program would be contributing $18,750 to the project.
And while Warsaw Rotary Club intended to submit a grant application to cover the remaining budget and pay for most of the construction this summer, Slusser noted, they found that the grant period had already closed.
But after anticipating that the town’s budget would come in under $130,000 for fiscal year 2013, Slusser asked town council to use $15,000 of the projected surplus in matching funds for the playground.
He said the other half of the remaining $30,000 would be funded by private donations.
“We’re hoping that…this will be an incentive for people to donate,” said Slusser, adding that he had never seen anything receive as much broad-based support as had the town’s proposed playground.
“It’s amazing. I don’t know how we went this long without one because it seems to be one of the things that people want more than anything else, particularly for their kids,” said Slusser.
Vice Mayor Paul Yackel, assuming mayoral duties for Mayor Mark Milstead who was away on vacation, agreed with Slusser’s assessment.
He shared that several citizens had been asking him about the town’s plans in regards to the playground.
“It’s something that the public really, really wants,” said Yackel. “And it’s something we need for the young people.”
Councilmember William Washington made the motion to fund $15,000 of the 30-day project, which council favored in a unanimous vote.
Slusser said the town’s goal was to complete the process before July 1.
In other news, council approved the final site plan for the Richmond County School Complex as subject to both the Virginia Department of Transportation for their final approval and Richmond County signing off on Erosion and Sediment Control.
While council voted unanimously in favor of the site plan, Councilmember Randy Phelps reintroduced his concerns from the Warsaw Planning Commission meeting on May 2 that the site plan violated the town’s Development Management Ordinance (DMO).
“There are several issues to be argued,” said Phelps, who claimed the week before that the plans did not properly address parking needs at Richmond County schools.
“That said, we are under certain financial restraints and sometimes we just have to do what’s best for the community.”
Phelps said he would vote for the plan because the county and its students needed the upgrades that would be provided by the structural additions to the schools.
“But I think we should note that it’s not perfect by any means,” Phelps said of the site plan. “And when the time comes in the future that we can address parking, I certainly hope that the board of supervisors and school board will [do what they can].”
Slusser read from a prepared statement that clarified his position on the site plan.
“My comment was that it did not absolutely meet [the DMO] but that it fairly met it, taking into consideration the existing circumstances and limitations,” said Slusser.
Council also approved the final revisions to the town’s future land use plan.
The meeting was recessed to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 in town hall.