Holts Summit Revisited
Marty Wilson, a Holts Summit resident, was trying to make his city a better place to live, until the mayor stepped in.
"That's the part that's the worst, because of ego, it's going to cost the city money," said Wilson.
The ego, Marty Wilson says, belongs to Mayor Richard Parks. The money that will now cost the city to renovate Greenway Park, could have cost the city nothing.
From the gutters to the sidewalk and even upgrades to the ball field, it all was donated for free.
The main reason behind Wilson's work was to get the Civic Center at Greenway Park in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. As the park stands right now, the city can't use it and hasn't been able to since purchasing it in October 2005.
Wilson went to the City Clerk and Parks Commission to ask for a list of what needed to be done.
"Within four hours, we had everything donated for free," said Wilson.
Everything would have been finished in time for this year's Fourth of July celebration.
"We would have had it so people could sit inside and use this park because that's where they shot off fireworks. Instead people had to sit out in the fields and stuff," said Wilson. "It would have generated revenue, and the city desperately needs revenue."
After confirming donations from different companies, Wilson worked up a presentation to explain this at a city meeting.
"I made up presentation. Cheryl and the mayor went over it. That night I was to present it. They prepared the room, had a projector all set up. Then, mayor is like who are you and what are you doing? I said I'm here to make the presentation about the park. He said I didn't know anything about it. I don't think this is an appropriate place for you to do it. After the meeting, the mayor came up to me and said you are not allowed to speak to anybody from the city, but me. You're not allowed to talk to city employees, and we're not interested in you helping with the mark," Wilson said.
In work session notes from April 23, it is noted that "Mayor Parks believes the proposal leaves the city open for possible litigation. Work such as wiring and construction should be done by a reputable firm who would be held accountable if something were to go wrong."
"At later meetings, he has said we don't want people who don't know what they are doing volunteering. We're not interested in this. We don't care about your agenda for the park," said Wilson. "And, it wasn't my agenda. I just got the wish list from the City Clerk and City Engineer and Parks Commission and got what they wanted by pulling favors fro local contractors, suppliers, builders, excavators."
Brenda Leydens is the President of the Holts Summit Community Betterment Association, an organization that tries to do exactly what's in their title. In March, the HSCBA held an auction and donated some of the money to the city for Greenway Park.
"We issued a check for $1500 and asked that it be used for some type of permanent fixture at the park," said Leydens.
Marilyn Ringland, a member of the Parks Commission said the $1500 has been earmarked for playground equipment. The money still has not been used. The HSCBA is trying to urge the city to improve the park sooner than later.
"I grew up playing ball here, and in a small town, that's what we did. And the civic association could be used for so many things, we could have programs for senior citizens, for youths. And right now, it is sitting idle because it's not up to ADA code and hopefully that will change and just give our residents a lot more things to do," said Leydens.
Right now, it doesn't appear the city is any closer to making park improvements. Last month, the Board of Alderman failed to award a bid for construction of an accessible restroom and the repair of the ramp at the Civic Center. Two companies bid, but neither got the job because the board did not vote to accept them.
After Megan Murphy from KOMU made repeated attempts to contact city officials about Greenway Park, no one would consent to an interview. Alderman Mary Ann Durham is the liaison between the Board of Alderman and the Parks Commission. In a phone conversation between Murphy and Durham, before Durham hung up on her, Durham told Murphy she would not do an interview and that "the Parks Commission could take care of itself."
Marty Wilson believes Holts Summit is using its money for the wrong things.
In September, the board voted to pay for Alderman Jim Ringland's legal fees in the lawsuit fellow Alderman Pam Murray filed against him for the defamation of character and slander. Wilson says the city could use that money for Greenway Park.
Aside from the issue of city funds, Wilson says the fact the mayor didn't allow him to help his city is the worst part.
"If that happened with me, I wonder how many other people have come to try to donate time, money, materials, manpower to the city and have been rejected," said Wilson. "The problem is the city is dying and as many people as can help save it is what they should be after."
In an attempt to give Mayor Richard Parks a chance to speak and to give his side of the story, Murphy called him again on Monday and he did not return her call.