To the Editor,
At the Village Board meeting of May 23, I abstained from voting on a proposal for a replacement for Sunset Park playground equipment, for which I am receiving some grief on social media sites. I believe that insufficient information was available for the Board to make an informed decision.
The replacement for this playground’s equipment was also on a Board agenda in October 2015 for $138,000. At that time, several residents opined that the proposed replacement equipment was not what they wanted. The vote was postponed at their request. A Sunset Park neighborhood committee was subsequently formed to learn about what they wanted for this playground area.
After several committee meetings and four months, the resident group met with the Village Board at a February work session. At that meeting the Board reached consensus on putting out a new Request For Proposal (RFP) which addressed the committee’s goals – primarily wood structures. The Board agreed at that meeting only to issue an RFP, not on a particular proposal.
Last Monday’s meeting was the Board’s first chance to see the lowest bid (of two) at $172,000 on the newest RFP. Since no Board members, nor the public, received the new proposed plans as part of the back up materials for the meeting, I raised several questions:
- What are taxpayers receiving for the additional $34,000? While the answer remains unclear, it appears that the new proposal includes wood support beams on the playground equipment as well as two additional swings. Two existing benches would be correspondingly removed.
- What are the real costs of a 15-year life expectancy for the proposed equipment versus the longer 20 -25 year expected life for the first proposal and how do maintenance costs compare?
- What is the opinion of the Recreation Advisory Board, which endorsed the first proposal, but was not asked to review this second proposal?
- As all taxpayers will pay for the a Sunset Park improvement, as they do for all park improvements, should more expensive wooden equipment be standard for all playground improvements in Village parks?
These questions are not the totality of questions about the proposal, but do identify why, in my opinion, it was wise for me and my fellow Trustee and colleague, Brian Pugh, to delay approval of the project until the above information is available. The Board will have an opportunity to revisit this project at its next meeting on Monday, June 6.
Two Board members were willing to vote without answers to these questions. I was not.
Ann Gallelli, Trustee