City politics has become the spectator sport of choice in Marysville, with perhaps the largest crowd in some time of nearly fifty citizens in the audience Monday. Social media fueled the fire, with multiple live streams via cell phones at times as well. The tone was set early as Police Chief Todd Ackerman addressed both the audience and the council briefly before the meeting began, urging a respectful and civil discourse. A two-page list of eighteen questions from the Admin and Finance Committee directed at a recent decision to add a disc golf course on a temporary basis in the Marysville City Park created the stir but was not addressed until committee reports nearly three hours into the meeting.
Thirteen-year-old Arianna Miller, who noted that she was a recent winner of the contest “If I were the Mayor” was critical of actions that she said reflected negatively on the city, particularly in social media circles. Glenda Eck and Angela Sutton Schmale spoke emotionally and were at times reminded by the mayor that public comments were not to be directed at, or toward individual members of the governing body. Still, former councilman Keith Beikman went member-by-member individually asking why they had based their decision on the matter of a disc golf course. Kyle Goracke, who initially proposed the idea was even more direct, asking for resignation of Mayor Carla Grund and council member Terry Hughes.
Following the public comment period, routine business was addressed. A request from USD 364 to add an unloading and parking zone for as many as two buses on U.S. Highway 77 just outside the new activity center was denied on a 2-4 vote, after council members expressed concern with losing parking for cars. They challenged the school board to determine a parking plan utilizing district property to the south, indicating they may then reconsider. Darrin Schroeder said the school board was exploring options but had no defined plan yet.
Council approved participating in a multi community effort by the state tree board to contribute and add some 10-20 landscape trees to city property over a three-year period. They would be marked as an educational effort, and potential locations were discussed.
The city budget hearing was set for Monday, August 13th, 7 p.m. with the regular city council meeting. An option to hire a part time manager to open the city pool for adult morning swimming from 8-10 a.m. after the pool closes August 13th through the end of the month drew fire from council member Diane Schroller, who felt that a recommended $10 per hour wage was more than lifeguards earned who worked through the summer. The proposal passed 5-2-1, and it was further consensus that the pool remain open weekends, if sufficient lifeguards were available. Most are students returning to class.
City Administrator Austin St. John laid out plans for constructing a salt shed on city property at 2nd and Walnut streets. He is to return with specifics, and cost estimates, which he indicated could be around $9,000 for concrete block, $14,000 for a roof, and the added expense of a six inch asphalt pad and drive. St. John had inquired of several communities involved with Bluestem Energy, who had approached the city offering to develop an alternative energy plan that could reduce utility costs for city owned buildings and properties. Response was favorable, and council consensus was to proceed with allowing the energy study at no cost to the city. He went on to ask council guidance on application for a state transportation alternative grant due September 1st. Priority was to revisit a plan to repave the 500 block of Broadway in front of Cromes’ former grocery, and better engineer the asphalt rise on Broadway at 7th Street. A second plan that would develop the 7th Street corridor north from U.S. Highway 36 was given tentative ok, with council asking for a preliminary draft plan and cost estimate at their next meeting. The grant would fund 80% of costs.
Terry Hughes suggested, but then made no motion to use leftover asphalt millings to pave Jayhawk Road. Previously it was agreed that a test of the practice at the city brush dump site be used to determine if it would work. He indicated that a petition of citizens wanted the millings, but he was discouraged by staff at a street committee meeting.
The mayor noted untended weeds downtown and asked that a notice be sent to business owners to address their properties. Approval was given to hire Butch Schmitz, on a seasonal basis, to address code enforcement, focusing on unkept properties, vehicles and machinery parked improperly, and the like.
At last the matter of the questions raised about a disc golf course were brought up. Members of the Administration and Finance Committee spoke little, as the mayor outlined a response that she had received from the city insurance provider. They suggested that best practices of the Disc Golf Association be adopted. Jason Barnes raised concern that the topic was not listed as a discussion item for the committee meeting. He shared results of calls he had made to nearly a dozen communities, who had expressed little or no issues adding such facilities in their parks. The matter of requiring waivers for volunteers involved with installation drew discussion, with points made that such a practice has not been an enforcement of other volunteer efforts in the city. The city attorney weighed in briefly on negligence concerns, noting that statutes allowing for recreational risks were in place. Finally, he suggested amending a 2014 contract with USD 364 for use of the park facilities may not be a bad idea.
Following executive session, the meeting continued into a 5th hour as the disc golf matter came up yet again. The mayor expressed concern with potential open meeting violations, urging council members not share conversations outside committee or council meetings, and reserve comments on social media. Council member Bobbi Pippia shared a visit she reportedly received from a former Marysville mayor, who suggested that she abstain from voting on the issue. A back and forth as to who said what to whom and when went on until council did adjourn after 11 p.m.
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