Park’s future still in doubt

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The future of Memorial Park remains to be decided after a proposed new quarter mill operating levy failed on the ballot this past Election Day. It was noted in a prior article that the park’s operating funds are depleted and the facility faced the real possibility of permanently closing its gates.

“Closing the park is not something anybody wants to do,” said Eric Costine, member of the park board.

He said the board met last week to look at options in the wake of the failed levy.

Costine noted that one possibility is including another levy on the spring ballot this March. However, they are reluctant to incur the cost of placing the matter on the ballot if no other issues are included.

Costine said that the board hopes to reach out to residents and better describe the park’s financial situation.

“The local government money we get through the county over the last eight to 10 years have continued to be cut,” he said, adding that in 2005 the park received close to $35,000 while next year less than $9,000 is expected.

“The park always has operated on a thin budget. We never had much play in funds,” Costine said, added that last year insurance money for wind damage kept the park from a short fall.

He said a $10,000 short fall of was predicted for this year. The board had hoped to bridge the gap. He added that while the park brings in revenue, it is insufficient to meet the demand.

He added that revenues revenue is $60-$80,000 yearly. If the budget requires $90,000 the park could only generate $80,000.

Recently, the park has seen improvements to infrastructure including new pool liner, a pump, and a slide. However, these were funded by a capital improvement levy that cannot be spent on needs such as lifeguards, grass cutting and other maintenance.

The entire community uses the park for a variety of activities from dog walking to community gatherings, year-round. The park is a source of recreation and relaxation for residents from students through to senior citizens. The park employs close to a dozen local students as lifeguards part time, as well as two groundskeepers.

The park is owned and operated by the St. Clairsville/Richland Township Memorial Park District, not by St. Clairsville or Richland Township. The facility receives funds from neither.

Costine said the board will hold further meetings. There is no immediate plan to close the park. The normal opening day for the park is Memorial Day weekend at the end of May.

“We want this park to remain open,” he said.

DeFrank can be reached at