Wellsville officials discuss priorities for park upgrades

WELLSVILLE–Department of Parks, Recreation and Sports official Bevan Higbee urged members of the Wellsville City Council Wednesday night to reconsider their plan to build a bridge at the Wellsville Dam, because he said the funds could be better used to construct a fish-cleaning station and bathroom facilities.Higbee said the money could be used to construct new bathrooms or to bring portable toilets to the dam because the solitary bathroom facility is being overused.”I know that the decision has already been made to put a bridge across the dam, but it’s more important that we put a fish-cleaning station in so we don’t have all of those dead fish remains there,” Higbee said. “We also need some of those blue bathrooms, or whatever you want to call them. Port-o-potties. We need at least three of them up there. What we have isn’t enough.”Higbee also expressed concerns about potential liability issues that the bridge could cause. He said he was afraid that careless children would play on the bridge and fall into the dam.The council said that they understood Higbee’s concerns and requests, but that they couldn’t reallocate the funds because they came from a Recreation, Arts, Parks and Zoo (RAPZ) tax grant and must be used for the construction of a bridge.”You know, we agree with you that we need a fish-cleaning station and that was on our short list of things to do when we applied for RAPZ funds this year,” Councilman Gary Bates said. “We just didn’t get the grant approved for a fish-cleaning station. Our grant is just for the bridge.”The council said they would look into finding the funds to provide portable toilets at the dam during the coming summer.The council also toured the facilities of the Wellsville Volunteer Fire Department during the meeting so that Fire Chief Jeremie Poppleton could show them the need to set aside a fund to renew aging equipment in coming years.”We have good equipment, but it’s really starting to show its age and we’ve had several mechanical problems recently,” Poppleton said. “You have to remember that paying a mechanic to fix a fire truck costs three to five times what it would cost you to have him fix your car. We need to prepare a fund for the problems we’re going to have in the next few years as our stuff gets older.”Poppleton said the fire department has been able to receive several federal grants in recent years to help pay for fire equipment because the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, have led the government to value fire departments more than they did previously.”Nine-eleven has really helped the fire departments. As sad and unfortunate as the event was, it’s opened eyes to everything we need and we’ve been able to get a lot of grants for protective fire clothing and equipment,” Poppleton said.Poppleton also said that the fire department will be holding an open-house style event to educate the community about fire safety on May 16. More information will be posted in the Wellsville city newsletter as it becomes available.The council also met with residents of the Red Slide Subdivision and is closer to annexing the subdivision’s West Park into the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Sports. The council said that once the Red Slide Homeowner’s Association legally turns the park over to the city, they will begin efforts to improve and landscape it.

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