Town looking at fixes to park infrastructure

Middletown officials began looking at its budgetary expenses for the upcoming fiscal year Monday night.

At its monthly work session, council discussed various projected costs and funding possibilities for the town moving forward.

One of the major talking points at Monday’s meeting was discussion of several options to fund and pay for upgrades to the infrastructure and facilities at the town park located off of Senseney Avenue and Second Street.

The town recently installed new playground equipment last July, which Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV designed himself and described as universal equipment that can be expanded with additions.

“This playground equipment is actually the first amount of money that we’ve put into the park for playground equipment since the park’s inception in 1991,” Harbaugh noted.

In a follow-up interview, Harbaugh said, “I’ve been waiting for a while for us to have that conversation and for the rest of the council to realize that our park needed upgrades and … to be comparable to other towns.

“If we’re going to have all of these events down there at the park like we do, then we really want it to be top-notch and in good shape.”

At Monday’s meeting, town officials also noted that the pavilion bathrooms are out of date and in need of upgrades.

Town Public Works superintendent Donald Riffey said, “For starters, we gotta get a bigger waterline [running] to it.”

According to Riffey, “the biggest problem” with the bathrooms is that the waterline running to them is “3 quarters of an inch thick.”

“Two years ago, we redid the plumbing … inside of the park bathrooms with 1-inch lines,” Riffey added. “That helped some, but it hasn’t still hasn’t helped completely.”

Riffey noted that the town will have to come up with some money for any upgrades or fixes to the park’s bathroom infrastructure.

Another option the council discussed was the possibility of increasing the fee for renting the park’s pavilion, which is now $25 a day.

Riffey noted that the park’s pavilion gets rented out by residents “probably most every weekend” between the months of June and August.

Town Treasurer Rebecca Layman said, “We are upgrading to a point, and I just think that $25 is incredibly cheap.

“Honestly, in the summertime, that doesn’t even pay for the water bill and the electricity. I think that definitely needs to go up.”

Layman added, “The electric bill down there is $32, and it’s just going to increase as the summer goes on.”

Another possibility the town briefly discussed was possibly looking into “low flow” toilets as a way to cut down on water use, and therefore costs.

The council discussed the possibility of adding a line item of $5,000 under the town’s maintenance budget for 2016.

“I’d say that’s a good start, if you get $5,000 in there … it’s really going to help out what you have,” Riffey said.

Harbaugh called the playground talks “a nice, healthy discussion,” but cautioned that budget talks are preliminary and missing key revenue data as well as a water rates analysis.

The analysis, which is being conducted by Missouri-based Carl Brown Consulting, will give the town a good indication on where it stands in regards to its water and sewer rates.

Harbaugh said the town would like to receive the analysis by mid-May so that it can assess where its rates stand at the moment.

Shortly following the meeting, Harbaugh said, “The town is doing very well financially. We’re in the black and our budgets have been great the last couple of years.”

Council scheduled a special meeting after next Monday’s regular meeting to discuss potential revenue for the 2016 fiscal cycle.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com