Non-profit requests $15K for park

WARREN — The non-profit group working to make Quinby Park a destination place for those living on the city’s west side and others is requesting the city provide an additional $15,000 from its Community Development Department so it can purchase new playground equipment.

Warren Neighborhood Initiative is seeking $11,000 for a linked playground system with slides; $1,500 for a playground frame and rubber mulch; $500 for a mural wall; $1,000 for benches and barbecue grills; and $1,000 for the basketball court renovation.

D’Andre Bowers, executive director of Warren Neighborhood Initiative, told members of council’s Community Development and Strategic Planning Committees during their joint meeting last week that during the 20 weeks the organization has been working on the park’s shelter house restoration, it has garnered nearly $250,000 worth of donated materials and volunteer efforts.

“We will use the $15,000 exclusively for outdoor equipment in the park,” Bowers said.

Mayor Doug Franklin said the city already purchased a swing set for Quinby Park, and the city’s operations department is making a sign for the park.

Community Development Director Michael Keys said his department has been setting aside money for the parks for years, but that had been earmarked for splash pads requested by Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at large.

“We only get so much money in Community Development grants, so when we have a big project that costs, say, $100,000, I put in money for several years to pay for the project,” Keys said.

LeRoy McKinzie, executive director of Community Concerned Citizens II, which is the organization that shepherds Quinby Park, is not supportive of using the Community Development money for splash pads.

Rucker, who was not at the meeting, proposed a splash pad to give families with small children a place to go where they can have water fun.

“We have communities all around us with water recreation and splash pads,” she said.

Rucker said she has worked with Commmunity Concerned Citizens II before and does not want this to be a wedge issue.

“If the mayor wants to give the money to Quinby, it is his decision,” Rucker said. “They have taken money from me before.”

Council President Jim Graham questioned what security measures are being considered, especially since there will be more equipment in the park.

McKinzie suggested the same level of security the city provides to Packard Park and Perkins Park should be provided at Quinby Park.

“Security should not be an excuse,” he said.

Mary Ann Franklin, an organization supporter, said the non-profit organization has for years worked with the city in maintaining the park, keeping it clean and changing its environment to make it family friendly.

“Let’s work together,” she said.

Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd Ward, pulled out a checkbook and wrote a $500 personal check to WNI for the Quinby Park project and encouraged other council members and officials to contribute what they can do for the project.

Council members Eugene Mach, D-7th Ward, and Cheryl Saffold, D-6th Ward, said they will sponsor the necessary legislation to provide the Community Development money for the Quinby Park restoration.