Playgrounds remain closed; city council allows ballpark and library to reopen

Parents have been wondering when the City of Holyoke will reopen its playgrounds, but at the June 16 meeting, Holyoke City Council decided to postpone making a decision on reopening the playgrounds. Members were uncertain about sanitizing the playground and opted to address the issue at their July 7 meeting.

Released June 4, State guidelines for parks say:

— Playgrounds may be open to up to 25 people at a time — consider signage with the capacity limit and spacing recommendations.

— Post signage throughout the area reminding individuals to stay at least 6 feet away from members of other households.

— Outdoor sports facilities for individual (non-league) use (e.g., tennis courts, basketball courts, pickleball courts, bike

tracks, motocross tracks, fields) may be open to up to 25 people at a time per court or per field.

— Frequently touched surfaces that are indoors are to be cleaned and disinfected according to CDPHE guidance (e.g.,  park benches or playground equipment).

— Stagger visitor attendance by extending operating hours or limiting capacity whenever possible.

Though the playground equipment itself is off limits, City Park can be used 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Also brought to the council for consideration were proposals to reopen the ballpark and the library. Both were ultimately approved.

Recreation director Victoria Dunker set the opening date for the ballpark for Wednesday, July 1. This will allow for modified baseball, softball, machine-pitch and T-ball. When the ballpark is in use, the concession stand, bleachers and playground will remain closed.

Participants are encouraged to wear masks and take their own equipment that won’t be shared. Spectators should take their own chairs and sit 6 feet away from other households.

Games will be played in Holyoke against other Holyoke teams. There will be no travel and no visiting teams.

Library director Kathy Bornhoft, along with the library board, sent an outline of safety precautions that will be taken as the library resumes regular hours, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Patrons are still encouraged to call ahead and pick up books curbside. When patrons do access the library, they will be required to sign in. No one under the age of 17 will be allowed without an adult.

Computers are spaced 6 feet apart, and use is limited to one hour per day. Only nine patrons are allowed in the library at a time, and masks are suggested.

Council members also approved a summer reading program at the library, provided Bornhoft submits an event request form to Phillips County. The reading program will take place outdoors and will follow the aforementioned precautions. Groups will be limited to a maximum of 10 people.

 

Subdivision, zoning ordinances up for adoption July 7

Council members approved two ordinances on first reading at the June 16 meeting. Both will have public hearings at the Tuesday, July 7, meeting before being adopted.

Ordinance No. 2-2020 adds a new paragraph to the municipal code in the zoning chapter that outlines the use and density schedule. The new ordinance will allow travel trailers and trailer parks as permitted uses in area zoned C-2 (commercial district) but only after request to and written approval by the planning commission and the city council.

Elsewhere in the municipal code, a trailer park is defined as “an area clearly defined and separate from a mobile home park area, with individual parking lots, which may or may not have facilities for the temporary hook-up of electrical and plumbing outlets.”

A travel trailer is defined as “a vehicular portable structure built on a chassis, designed to be used as a temporary dwelling for travel, recreational and vacation use, and equipped for the road. It has a body width not exceeding eight feet and a body length not exceeding 32 feet. It may be self-contained, with bath and toilet facilities, or classified as a dependent-type, without bath and toilet facilities. Any regulations applying to travel trailers will also apply to campers mounted on a truck chassis, tents or tent-type trailers.”

This ordinance comes as a result of Nick Ferguson’s request to build an RV park on the west end of Furry Street.

Ordinance No. 3-2020 amends the municipal code in the subdivision chapter that addresses improvements. The ordinance adds a new section about duplex subdivision. Previously, a duplex could not be sold as two separate units unless each unit sat on a lot that met the minimum size requirement for an individual dwelling structure.

With the new ordinance, a duplex can be divided regardless of the resulting size of the two individual lots, as long as the total lot size requirement was met at the time of construction.

According to the ordinance, all nonconforming divisions of duplexes that occurred prior to its adoption will also be considered in compliance.

 

2019 audit reviewed

Scott Szabo of Lauer, Szabo & Associates PC attended last week’s meeting to provide an overview of the 2019 audit to city council members.

“The audit went very well, as it has for a number of years,” Szabo said, commending City staff for their work.

At the end of 2019, the City’s general fund had a balance of $2,050,336, which is about a year’s worth of reserves. The fund is up $353,244 from the previous year.

The total balance of the City’s eight special revenue funds and one permanent fund was $691,130, up $26,545 from 2018. Moneys in those funds are dedicated or restricted by state law.

Holyoke’s utility fund’s net position at the end of the year was $10,816,194, up $469,144. From that fund, $753,500 was transferred to the general fund, which Sazabo said is consistent with what the City has done in the past.

Council members accepted the 2019 audit as presented.

 

Citizen requests improvements be made to tennis courts

Lori Nelson approached council members at the June 16 meeting about the state of the City’s tennis courts. In their current condition, she said, the courts are an eyesore and are essentially unusable.

“Where we’re a city of pride and progress, we should be proud of the looks of the community,” she added.

Nelson shared that others she’s spoken with in the community are likewise disappointed that the tennis courts aren’t in better condition. She asked that the council talk about the matter. If money is an issue, she offered that the Future Business Leaders of America chapter for which she’s the adviser may be able to help raise funds.

 

Officials, recreation director report

Superintendent Mark Brown reported that the electric department had handled numerous power outages since the previous meeting. The water and sewer department kept busy replacing broken meters, rodding storm sewers, pulling water and wastewater samples for state testing, and working on the wastewater sprinkler systems.

After recent storms, street crews picked up tree branches and cleaned storm drains. They’ve also done some mowing. Work is still being done on the boiler system at the pool, so it remains shut down.

Brown reported that he received the signed Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act grant. He also noted that four Sensus Act-Paks are needed for well monitoring. The council approved the purchase at a total cost of $5,368.04.

Chief Doug Bergstrom reported that Holyoke Police Department handled or generated 97 calls for service May 28-June 15. Under code enforcement, there were three animal complaints and 17 municipal code violations.

Clerk/treasurer Kathy Olofson reported that the City received the second-quarter Conservation Trust Fund money in the amount of $5,531.98. She also noted that the City office will be closed July 3 in observance of Independence Day.

Dunker reported that the recreation department is getting back into some in-person youth activities with an art class taught by Jade Goldenstein and a cookie decorating class taught by Jen Ingram.

 

Other business

In other business at the June 16 meeting, city council members:

— Appointed Kevin Scott to serve another three-year term on the board of variance adjustment.

— Appointed Gordon Hielscher to serve another six-year term on the planning commission.

— Appointed Boyce Wernet to serve another five-year term on the Holyoke Housing Authority board.

— Approved a special events permit for Phillips County Fair board on June 10 and waived local fees.

— Allowed the library board to use $9,852 of library funds to match the Colorado State Historical Fund Grant.

— Allowed Mayor Orville Tonsing to sign a contract with Phillips County for the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

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