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Splash Pad Approved, Safety Concerns at City Hall Discussed and Townhomes Approval at Mascoutah Council Meeting

By Zachary Daum
mascherald@heraldpubs.com

The Mascoutah City Council met at 7:00 PM and discussed several points.
Citizen Eric Mercer spoke during the public comments, discussing several topics that were covered during the prior, Monday, Feb. 4 meeting, where he was also arrested after being asked to leave after going over time.
Citizen James Shanks, who handed Mayor Pat McMahan a notice of intent to sue, but forgot the court date and would still be pursuing his grievances in court. He accused the city of racketeering and corruption for some sort of taxation concern. “It’s been going on in this city for years and I’m going to put an end to you.”
The council reviewed and approved the January monthly fund balance report. The city reported a total beginning balance of $19,464,545.50 with an ending balance of $20,652,775.51, with a total increase of $1,188,230.01. Monthly claims and salaries were also approved, in which during the month of January were $1,459,168.75, which falls under the average.
A second reading for changes to the city code involving cruelty to animals in extreme conditions was held and unanimously approved. This change adds the following to the city code on cruelty to animals: “It shall be unlawful for any person responsible for an animal to leave a dog or cat tethered outdoors or unattended during extreme weather conditions, including when the actual or effective outdoor temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or when the actual or effective temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. (“Unattended” shall mean at any residence or on any property where there is no permanent resident, or where the property is a vacant house, undeveloped parcel, or a residence that has been deemed uninhabitable by the city.)”
Another discussion on an agreement with Contegra Pools, LLC over the long in talks free splash pad at Scheve Park was held. City Manager Cody Hawkins spoke about several concerns brought up at previous meetings. He requested the cost of a recirculating system would cost $350,000 with a variable cost of maintenance and winterization being $15,000 to $20,000 a year.
The city was told by designers that the numbers per season is estimated at 250,000 gallons to 450,000. $7.12 for every gallon of water. $12,000 to $32,000 a season. If the water was drained to the storm drain, it would cost less, but with regular sewer costs it would be $7.44 for a gallon for runoff. The cost of a recirculating system and the life system would take roughly 100 years to reach the cost it would be to install a recirculating system, stated by Hawkins. If a recirculating system was installed, bathrooms would also have to be renovated, which would be an additional cost. Grants were pursued however they have not succeeded at this time. Councilman Jack Weyant requested that parking be added at the park to improve the park, as a side note for other improvements possible at the park. Councilman Wally Battas said that the pool place was giving the numbers and that he was concerned that the numbers from the place are a concern. He also spoke up about his concern about no fencing at the splash pad as well. “We have to make sure everything is right in this project. The city can’t be in the business to lose money. I think the splash pad is a great idea but I’m still not sold on it in that location.”
City Manager Hawkins said that if a fence was a concern it could easily and cheaply be added to the plan.
Councilman Battas said that despite this he can’t agree with where the splash pad will be. “The site is just not it for me, I don’t see us getting the full use out of it.”
Councilman Nick Seibert said that he has no issues with it overall and that for $12,000 to $32,000 a year, it is worth the project. “It’s time to figure out where it’s going to be and move forward.”
Councilman Mike Baker said that his biggest concerns are parking and location of the splash pad. Councilman Baker said that he was swayed by the numbers of a recirculating system and that it is no longer a concern. He also requested from The Herald their web poll, which showed the following:
It should be placed by the pool. (73%, 38 Votes) It doesn’t matter, I don’t want a splash pad! (13%, 7 Votes) It doesn’t matter, I just want a splash pad! (12%, 6 Votes) It should be placed by the ball field and dog park. (2%, 1 Votes)
Mayor McMahan said that the location was on the grant previously approved for the location of the splash pad by the dog park and ball field and that concerns for losing the grant could occur if movement forward on the project did not occur. Although this is the case, City Manager Hawkins said that it could be possible to amend the grant request to move the location, however that would be determined at another time. Councilman Weyant requested the approval of the motion, with Seibert seconding it. Councilman Weyant voted yes, Councilman Battas voted no, Councilman Seibert voted yes, Councilman Baker voted no, with the final vote, Mayor McMahan voting yes, with the motion passing.
The council discussed two separate architectural reviews for 1: Falcon Place Townhomes, Phase 2 site plan and architectural elevations for a proposed 8 office/warehouse building of 16 units, located at the property off Hayden Drive in the general commercial zoning district east of Hawkins Point Townhomes and 2: Hayden Drive Office/Warehouse Complex Site Plan and Architectural Review, which would be located east of Hawkins Point Townhomes, south of proposed Falcon Townhome Phase 2. ADA compliant issues came up when it came to the first part and a representative from the Townhome project stated that while the buildings aren’t required to be ADA compliant the sidewalks and parking must be, which would be up to the city to enforce. The first site plan for Falcon Place Townhomes was unanimously approved. The warehouse project was then discussed, with City Manager Hawkins stating that in the past similar projects were approved. After reviewing some of the road, sidewalk and turning areas for the project, it was unanimously approved.
In miscellaneous, Councilman Seibert stated that the field behind ballfield 4 will be having batting cages installed soon, at some point in March. Councilman Baker brought up his concern about parking charges at the airport to include an extra $1 charge to be received by the city. City Attorney Al Paulson stated that he and City Manager Hawkins were in talks on that topic. Attorney Paulsen said that no one has received tax money from the parking lot, which could indicate it receives an exemption, but that the city would need to discuss with the department of revenue that they have not received tax for the parking. He also stated that the city could amend the parking ordinance in town so if paid parking is within the city limits, a fee would be put in place on the owner’s business license based on the number of parking locations available.
Councilman Baker also discussed safety concerns in regards to the Mayor of Kirkwood being fired upon and other safety concerns for council members. He proposed that a metal detector could potentially be installed and that it is something that should be considered. He also asked if a rule that would disallow bags from being brought into the council meeting out of safety concerns. Mayor McMahan said that he doesn’t like locking up the rooms, however agrees that it could be something that needs to be done. When the cost of metal detectors came up, Baker asked, “What’s the cost of a life?”
The council closed for executive session collective bargaining and personnel, which was added to the agenda at the start of the meeting. They will meet again on Monday, March 4, 2024 at 7:00 PM.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous on March 18, 2024 at 4:29 pm

    a splash pad? who wants that? 38 people?

  2. Anonymous on March 10, 2024 at 3:20 pm

    The Splash Pad is laughable in regards to “free.” The taxpayers are the individuals paying for this project so why not call a “spade a spade?” The transcript above includes no mention of cost of insurance for this project. How much is the insurance? What is the cost of labor? Are cameras going to be installed to prevent vandalism? What is the cost? What is the cost to add parking spaces at the park if needed? This project is not “free.” I will grab some popcorn and watch this fiasco manifest itself.

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