Copyright 2014 Charleston Newspapers
WINFIELD - The Putnam County Parks and Recreation Department has decided to return control of Putnam County Park to the town of Eleanor, county commissioners said Tuesday.
According to county commissioner Joe Haynes, who serves on the county's parks and recreation board, the board had extensive talks with the city to ensure it would be financially capable of keeping up the park. Haynes said the city leases the land to Parks and Rec, and approached the board earlier this year to request control of the park so that it could invest in potential improvements, including improvements to the park's pool and the addition of a spray ground.
"To me, it's a win-win for the people of Putnam County - the county can concentrate more on Valley Park, Walter Park and Hometown Park, and the city can concentrate their effort on the park in Eleanor," he said.
County Park is Parks and Rec's largest park at 200 acres, but Valley Park is more highly trafficked, and Haynes said balancing the two in terms of investment has always been an important concern for the board.
"The problem has always been that you're trying to take care of Valley Park and County Park - well, the population center is near Valley Park, so more money was spent there than at County Park, but more people went there, too," Haynes said.
The board discussed whether the city of Eleanor would be able to financially support the park and its expansion, as well as how the city will partner with the county during fairs - the fairgrounds are located in Putnam County Park - but Haynes said he believes the city will be able to handle the transition.
"One of the many questions we asked is 'what will this do in relation to the county fair, and does this affect access to the gun club?' and we were assured it would not," Haynes said. "Our budget carries through the fiscal year, and we're going to transition with Eleanor - we have money already budgeted for the pool opening and everything."
Eleanor officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
County commissioners also voted Tuesday to loan the county's health board another $15,000 so that it can maintain payments to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to interim director Lolita Kirk, while most of the health department's creditors have allowed the health board to delay payment on money owed until the next fiscal year, the board needs the $15,000 to meet its current obligations. The health board has already borrowed $50,000 from the commission this year to pay former Putnam County Health Department landlord Gary Young and former sanitarian Barbara Koblinsky.
The health board voted last week to award $60,000 in back pay to Koblinsky, the full amount owed her after she was twice fired and successfully filed wrongful termination grievances. According to County Commissioner Andy Skidmore, a health board member, the money owed to Koblinsky will come from the PCHD's surplus property sale in November and from the board's standard loans from the commission.
In October, the health board agreed to pay Young about $167,000 over the next two fiscal years, and has already paid him $34,305. A $20,000 loan finalized by the commission in December was requested to pay Young, and he is still owed $49,000 for this fiscal year and $83,000 for next fiscal year.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at [email protected] or 304-348-5189.