After discussion about concerns of fair treatment by the city of Alliance, the city council voted in favor of transferring a budget authority of $30,000 from the Central Park tennis court project to fund improvements to the Rolling Prairie Disc Golf Course.
The improvements including upgrading the course from a nine-hole course to an 18-hole course. The Alliance Disc Golf Committee has raised $18,205 for designing the changes and the construction of the course at the Laing Lake area.
Council Member Ryan Reynolds introduced the resolution at the meeting to authorize the project and to use a portion of ACE funding to complete the needs of the project.
Council Member Earl Jones voiced his concerns at the meeting, noting that in the past, the city council was unwavering in its refusal to help fund projects. He said he was concerned that by authorizing the funding, it would be unfair to other groups that came before council in the past.
“I have some real concerns about this,” said Jones. “The Pillars for the Park people were here. They’ve raised over $300,000. They asked for $18,000 for the project. We were out and out rude to those people at that meeting that night. This is another program that was asked to fundraise to do an improvement to the park. It’s the same thing.
“The dog park, last year, also asked for help with matching funds to improve the entrances to the dog park,” Jones said. “They were also told we were not spending money. I see no difference between these projects, and I really like the disc golf idea, and I like the idea of having an 18-hole course, but fair is fair. What are we going to tell those people? The Pillars people have raised over $300,000. We told them ‘no.’ I don’t understand what the difference is, and I think they’re all three good projects, but why did we pick one to fund, and the other ones we say no.”
City Manager Jeff Sprock said the disc golf course would require no maintenance after the project is complete, whereas the other projects Jones mentioned would require “substantial staff time in order to maintain those.” He noted the project has been on the docket for the past two years, and that approving the project would allow the parks department to move forward with other projects, such as planting trees.
Sprock also noted that the money the city receives from ACE is meant for community betterment projects, which the disc golf course improvements would qualify as.
Jones reiterated his support for the project, but noted the need for the city to maintain its assets.
“I’m not all for deferring maintenance on the old tennis courts,” said Jones. “We’ve deferred maintenance on that forever. We’re going to have to do something to it. I would point out that history has shown that we deferred maintenance on the pillars, and we kept being told ‘we’re going to do something, we’re going to do something,’ and in the end, what we did was pull them down because we never did anything.
“Deferring maintenance on Central Park and using that budget authority for something else, I have an issue with too,” Jones said. “When you look at the crumbling rock walls down there, and the things like that, we have to do something, or we’re going to lose it all.”
Jones said that if the city is going to choose to fund one project, it needs to fund them all. Mayor Mike Dafney noted that he was not on council at the time Pillars for the Park came before city council. He said he is not bound by the actions of the former council, and that he would vote in favor of helping the Pillars for the Park.
“Pillars for the Park has gotten so much public support, not just here, but across the country, outside, that this project is going to get done,” said Dafney. “It has to get done. If they happen to fall short, and have to come to us, I’m going to vote to help them. This has taken on a life of its own.”
Reynolds was in agreement that the council should help Pillars for the Park when the time comes, but noted there is a misconception when it comes to the city’s budget.
“I think there’s a misconception out there in the community that the city has this giant chunk of money just sitting in a vault someplace that we can use to fund the pillars project,” said Reynolds. “It needs to be clear that we only have so much funds available, and we can’t pay for the entire thing.”
After some more discussion, the city council members, with the exception of Jones, voted in favor of authorizing the improvements to the course.