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‘Make This Commitment’

Funds remain in city budget for Crescent Park project

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Warren City Council has kept funding for an extensive renovation of Crescent Park in the 2021 budget.

The Warren City Council and city staff have been trying to figure out what to do with Crescent Park for a couple years.

A renovation project — work to the trail, lights, restrooms, parking, etc. — went out for bids a year ago and came in substantially over budget.

With the city facing a potential tax increase, should the $175,000 included in the budget for the project — which was pulled from funds set aside for paving — remain?

“I just don’t think it’s money well spent,” Mayor Maurice Cashman said.

He said he would consider the possibility of allocating $75,000 to the project “and see where that takes you” in terms of project scope. “I would like to carve that back to $75,000.”

Councilman John Wortman said he voted for the park project but said that if cutting the project will prevent council from raising taxes that the projects should be rescoped and pared down.

He noted that the $175,000 is nearly the total of the two mill tax increase that has been proposed.

Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said that the city would plan to bid the project as a “grocery list” — to be able to select what specific parts of the project to complete — but said the state wouldn’t permit such an approach without the full $175,000 commitment.

State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources funds have been awarded for the project with an expiration date of the end of 2021.

Holtz said the city would like to bid it within the next 60 days so council would be able to make some decisions in February or March and “could decide what we were going to take.

“The state is not going to let you do that until you make this commitment,” he said.

Councilman Gregory Fraser asked if DCNR would permit the project to go ahead without the “twinkle lights” on the trail and Freenock said yes if it comes down to what the city can afford.

The $175,000 for the project has been pulled from paving at the recommendation of staff.

Holtz noted that the high school hill of E. Fifth Ave. would be paved with federal money next year so a similar number of block will be paved in 2020 using just the city’s liquid fuels allocation because of that federal paving.

Fraer said there are “lots of known unknowns.”

Removing the lights would come at a savings of approximately $175,000.

“Because council will have another opportunity to evaluate bids,” Fraser said, he recommended leaving the funding in the budget and there was no further discussion on the topic Thursday.

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