Council panel nixes fixes at Apple-Jack

Members of Tiffin City Council voted 2-1 against applying for a grant to rehabilitate Apple-Jack Park at the Recreation and Public Property Committee meeting Thursday.

Last month, Tiffin resident Victor Perez suggested the city apply for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks grant to rehabilitate Apple-Jack Park. Although the application is due Sept. 1, the competitive grant had $28,000 available at a 75:25 match in total costs.

Perez proposed improvements to the Tiffin Park and Recreation Department board during a meeting Thursday morning. Improvements in the proposal included ball diamond upgrades and a cost of $4,290.14. The grant would leave the city with a cost of $1,082.31. Perez said a disbanding men’s softball league would donate the remaining money from its account, which would leave the city with a total cost of $10.08.

During the council committee meeting, Perez also suggested putting up another piece of recreational equipment at the park, which is on sale for $11,598.

At the park board meeting, Chairman John Bing an audit of the parks system. Councilman Jim Roberts said the audit would help establish which parks would serve better as athletic complexes, playgrounds or sitting areas.

After discussing the best uses for a community park such as Apple-Jack, park board members decided to create a long-range plan for all city parks.

“We need a careful and thorough analysis of present ball fields, their use and need for more,” Bing said.

Park and Recreation Director Matt Coleman said he respects the research and work Perez put into the project, but he didn’t want to “hodge-podge” the project on short notice.

“I’m reluctant to make use of a neighborhood park for the city as a whole,” Bing said. “I would rather see them used for community purposes.”

Roberts said the Park Board agreed they would not be in favor of pursuing the grant this year in order to establish the needs of the city first.

Councilman Joe Hartzell reported that Coleman said he and the city could upgrade the field to be workable for the leagues.

Perez said the request he made was not for a particular league, but a request from the community.

Hartzell said he also preferred to wait to look into a master plan and agreed with the park board. Because several groups had to consider the offer, he said he did not want to go over the Park Board and their decision by approving the grant application.

Roberts said he was not opposed to the grant application and previously supported moving forward on it, but the committee was “bound by protocol” by going through the several organizations for approval.

Perez said updating the park would show the community that the city was interested in improving the park, but felt no one on council wanted to move forward on the grant after the previous meeting.

Roberts said he would push for follow-through on completing the grant next year.

Councilman Tyler Shuff cast the dissenting vote, saying he felt the city should attempt to get the grant money if it was available this year, as it is not guaranteed in the state budget for next year.

Staff Writer Vicki Johnson contributed to this report.