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Flat Rock delays park driveway for a year

Flat Rock Village Council and park advisory committee discuss park improvements and costs. Flat Rock Village Council and park advisory committee discuss park improvements and costs.

FLAT ROCK — Facing mounting operating costs and higher than projected construction costs, the Flat Rock Village Council voted last week to delay a new entrance driveway and parking lot for a year.

The council's action on a 6-1 vote delays close to $1 million in construction costs and enables the village to pay for the park maintenance, operations and development without raising taxes, Vice Mayor Nick Weedman said during a joint meeting of the Village Council and its park advisory committee.
Weedman presented figures showing that the council could avoid a tax increase if it maintained a fund balance of $3 million and used the interest to cover park costs.
Weedman has been the strongest advocate for avoiding a tax increase by using interest income to pay for park operations and improvements. He gained an ally last month when Councilman Don Farr said he, too, favored delaying the new entrance road, which has a projected cost of $644,000. That does not include cost of a parking lot that was to be part of the new entrance road project.
The Village Council bought the old Highland Lake Golf Club course for $1.15 million last year. It has a long-range master plan that includes restrooms, playgrounds, reforestation, landscaping, pavilions and trails.
The council voted to impose a one-year moratorium on construction work that is not yet under way in the works, which would mean the village would complete the 1.3-mile perimeter walking trail and the restrooms in the clubhouse.
"The unknown factor is the foundation," Weedman said. "I don't expect them to get anything for the road but if you look at a pavilion, if you look at the playground, maybe you can get grants to offset that. ... Virtually everything we've done has cost significantly more than we've estimated."
The council also heard a report from the Park and Recreation Advisory Committee on possible dog park locations.
Advisory Committee member Ginger Brown presented six possible sites.
"For each one she gave the pros and cons and for all of them the cons were greater than the pros," Mayor Bob Staton said. "Her conclusion was there was just not a place for a dog park in this particular park because of the other amenities that are planned there. The committee's recommending against that but there are at least two members on the council that want to pursue it and do something."
Part of the problem is that a large part of the park is in the 100-year flood plain, where construction of even a fence is prohibited, Staton said. Another factor was the distance that the village would need to run a water line, considered a necessity for cleaning dog parks.
The dog park discussion came after Flat Rock resident Jay Casselberry offered the village a $5,000 grant plus $1,000 in operating costs to help pay for a dog park.
Ed Lastein, who manages construction projects for the park, reported that plans for the clubhouse work are ready to be advertised for a bid. The projected cost of enlarging the restrooms and adding security and other improvements is $150,000.
Also on Thursday, the Village Council authorized a contract for park grounds maintenance for FitzSimons Property Services, the low bidder for the job at $34,620. Another bidder that offered to do the work for $34,220 did not submit proof of insurance as required, Town Administrator Judy Boleman said. Other bids were $59,900 by Pro Scape Inc. and $105,300 by Revis Grounds Maintenance.