Oswald gives review, preview of Parks and Rec

City Council
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

Monticello Parks and Recreation not only had a busy 2019, but is looking forward to a busy 2020. 

Parks and Rec Director Jacob Oswald provided the Monticello City Council with a review of their activities in 2019 during their Jan. 20 meeting, as well as a preview of what’s in store for 2020. 

Last year Parks and Rec introduced pickleball to the community. 

“We had a lot of interest,” Oswald said. 

Due to the increased interest, they are now offering sessions on Thursday evenings. 

“It’s drawn people from Anamosa,” added Oswald. “We’re excited about the direction that it’s gone.” 

Oswald said aside from the indoor pickleball option, people are also looking forward to the new outdoor pickleball courts underway. 

Parks and Rec also offers Granny Ball for females 55 and older every Sunday at the Berndes Center. 

Also in 2019, the Youth Track Meet grew by 20 participants in its second year. Oswald said that event attracts participants from seven to eight different communities in the area. 

As for projects Parks and Rec took on last year, 75 trees were planted between the Baty Disc Golf Course and Jaycee Kleinow fields. 

Parks and Rec also got involved in the improvements to Fountain Park, next to the Aquatic Center. 

Phase one of the trail project was completed through the disc golf course. 

Parks and Rec Superintendent Shannon Poe and Oswald worked to clean up around the pond at Riverside Gardens. 

Looking into 2020, Parks and Rec will once again host the Chicago Slow-Pitch League, as well as add a variety of summer activities for kids of all ages. 

“We want to get them outside,” Oswald encouraged. Some examples include: Chicago Slow-Pitch, disc golf, bocce ball, and horseshoes. 

Projects in 2020 include the completion of the outdoor pickleball courts, continued trail development, continued cleanup of Riverside Gardens, planning for an inclusive playground at the Aquatic Center, planning for potential bocce ball courts, and the holiday light project. 

Oswald said the trail would potentially head east on Oak Street toward the new middle school. 

For those unfamiliar with the idea of an inclusive playground, Oswald explained it’s a playground structure that’s useable for kids of all abilities. He said the Aquatic Center is the perfect location for such a structure. Oswald and Poe have been meeting with a couple of different playground representatives to get price quotes on the equipment. 

Parks and Rec has been taking donations of holiday lights and outdoor decorations. The idea is to use them to decorate Fountain Park, the Aquatic Center and Riverside Gardens around the holidays. 

“On our radar, not necessarily in 2020, is a dog park and other playground improvements,” said Oswald. 

One specific project Oswald brought to the council’s attention is preparation for another trail extension along N. Maple Street. Parks and Rec proposed taking out the fence between the golf course entrance and the old fair office. Once the fence is gone, the sidewalk could be widened to meet the specifications for a trail path. 

“The fence needs attention anyway,” Oswald said of needed repairs. 

He took the idea to the Park Board, providing them with two options: leave the fence in place and widen the sidewalk or remove the fence altogether. Oswald said the Park Board was in favor of removing the fence, which amounts to roughly 300 feet. 

“Removing the fence makes the city park (fairgrounds) look more inviting and friendly,” he said. “The fence discouraged people from entering.” 

Oswald and City Administrator Doug Herman both agreed that the fence serves as a deterrent, especially with two big events planning to come to Monticello and use the city park over the summer (Iowa’s Ride and WMT Tractorcade). 

Council member Gary Feldmann asked if a temporary fence would be needed for the fair along Maple Street. Herman said they reached out to Fair Manager John Harms, and it’s likely the fair would rent something or put up temporary fencing. Obviously, Herman said the fair’s preference is to see the fence remain in place. 

If the council preferred to leave the fence in place, Herman said it could cost roughly $6,500 to replace. 

Lastly, Oswald inquired about the possibility of purchasing a toolcat utility vehicle for Parks and Rec. Right now, they’re using a 2006 Polaris Ranger, which is only two-wheel drive and can handle up to 500 pounds. Oswald said the toolcat would be four-wheel drive and have the ability to handle up to 2,000 pounds. 

“It’s a versatile piece of equipment,” he said of the toolcat, which could cost around $60,000 with the necessary attachments. 

The council, urged Oswald to look into getting a toolcat to experiment with before they decide to purchase one. 

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