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Committee recommends opening Lindsay Park gate

When the city of Manawa Improvements and Services Committee met on Wednesday, Dec. 5, there was only one item on the agenda – Lindsay Park .

When the meeting concluded, the committee agreed to recommend having the Lindsay Park gate open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter.

The meeting began with discussion about the closed gate at Lindsay Park, but the discussion turned to where the city puts its snow in the winter. Currently the city puts the snow in Lindsay Park, and those that use the trail complained that the snow blocks the entrance to the trail. The trail is on private property.

Committee member Alice Brown listed other city properties and asked if snow could be dumped in those locations.

Committee member Joel Bonikowske said some of those locations are fields, which would make it difficult to have access to during heavy snowfalls.

The discussion returned to the closed gate at the park.

“The other issue we have is all the people who want the trail open, want the gate open,” Brown said.

John Smith, owner of Smith’s Manawa Steakhouse, said having the gate closed at the park is a deterrent for people to use the Little Wolf River Trail. He said when people see a closed gate with a “Park Closed” sign on it they will think the walking trail is also closed.

Smith told the committee he requested the police reports of vandalism in Lindsay Park, and there weren’t that many. He cited a couple of examples, including one where pictures where drawn in a stall in the mens bathroom.

“You are going to have that anywhere,” Smith said. “You are going to have that with the gate closed.”

Director of Public Works Frank Jaeger said there was more vandalism at the park, it just wasn’t reported.

Smith said the city shouldn’t deter people from coming to Manawa it should be doing what is necessary to get people to the city. He said the city needs to get back to the way it was before with more businesses.

“Vandalism is a non-issue as far as costs to this community,” Smith said.

Mike Frazier, committee chair, asked what happens if the gate is opened and vandalism goes up.

“If we open the gate up, Chief Walker (Chief of Police in Manawa) said his staff will patrol it. Sherriff Hardel has already spoken that his staff will patrol it,” Smith said. “If you have vehicles down there you have less chance of vandalism to go up. The more people in the park, the better chance that you are going to have less vandalism.”

“The gate is not stopping people from going down there. It’s stopping people from driving in who want to use the trail.”

Tara Pachan, said that there is also a sign that says, “No Dogs Allowed.”

“I know a lot of people who take their dogs down there. I take my dog down there, and they are not going to walk through that gate because there is a huge sign that says, “No Dogs Allowed.” So they drive to the entrance of the trail and walk their dogs.”

City Clerk/Treasurer Cheryl Haas said she contacted surrounding communities asking what their winter policy was regarding city parks. She informed the committee that most surrounding communities close their city parks for the winter, not allowing vehicles in the park, but allow individuals to walk in the park.

Pachan said most of these cities don’t have gates at their parks, though.

Frazier asked if a compromise of having the gate open during the day during winter months would be acceptable.

Citizens in attendance agreed that would be a fair compromise.

Having the gate open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during winter months was passed unanimously by the committee. The passed motion goes before the city council at its regular meeting, Monday, Dec. 17.

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