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City Council votes to staff playground, pool

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton

The Warren City Council has overturned a city administration decision and the city’s Summer Playground Program and municipal pool will be open in 2021.

Council changed course on the offerings in two 4-3 votes during a special meeting held on Monday night.

City staff made the decision a couple weeks ago to not staff the park program or open the pool. That decision was evidently made without council’s knowledge.

Councilman Doug Hearn said he was “saddened” to hear of the decision specifically regarding the playground program. “All young people need to have these experiences and opportunities. Kids of all ages need to run around and stretch their legs every day.”

“What better way to make sure our community’s kids” do that “than by giving them a playground and park with lots of organized activities in the summer?… I seek an inclusive, safe opportunity for the young people of Warren,” he added, suggesting there is community support for the program.

He then made a motion to have the parks program “in some form” while complying with CDC and Department of Health guidelines.

“Our youth desperately need these programs,” Councilman John Wortman said, and said the city is “failing to adapt.”

Councilman Gregory Fraser didn’t question the value of the program but suggested that this action might be a “slippery slope” of “starting to micromanage the job of the city manager and the administration of our city.”

He said that the action is “overstepping our bounds” and called some of the statements “electioneering postures.

“We need to be extremely cautious about getting into micromanaging what should properly be the administration’s job.”

“I found out about this through the breaking news ticker on the Times Observer,” Councilman Christian Zavinski said, suggesting the decision could have gone through the Parks & Recreation Commission and City Council.

He said offering the program is “giving the people the freedom to choose.”

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