Robertson-Crist

Robertson-Crist Nature Park is shown Wednesday morning after recent rains caused the pond to overflow, and due to drainage issues at the park causing flooding onto Lisa Lane.

MARYVILLE, Mo. — Faced with tightening purse strings and one of the most expansive parks systems in the state for a town of its size, the Maryville Parks and Recreation Board of Directors began discussing funding priorities in broad strokes during its regular meeting Monday.

In March, MPR approved its first long-term master plan, outlining the goals for Maryville’s parks system over the next 5-10 years. At the end of that month, a 1/8-cent sales tax that funded the construction of the Maryville Community Center expired.

Since then, the board has been carefully evaluating its options on the best way to move forward, and what a potential new tax initiative would be best spent on.

Standing in the way are the sheer number of improvements recommended by the report, especially quality-of-life upgrades that may not move the needle much in terms of public excitement. On top of that list is accessibility issues, present at virtually every park and facility, whether it’s ADA-compliant bathrooms or a lack of walking trails or parking space.

Paving new parking lots and sidewalks, or repairing existing ones, could add up quickly across the city’s 10 parks — an unusually high number for a city of Maryville’s size. While improving accessibility in parks that aren’t often visited might help increase those parks’ use, it could also take away from the more popular parks that are in need of improvements themselves. Illustrating the issue, MPR Director Jeff Stubblefield cited a survey of Maryville residents conducted as part of the master plan that showed more than half of the over 400 respondents said they had never been to five of the city’s parks.

Apart from those issues, Stubblefield has often cited the aging aquatic center, in its 29th summer of operation, as one of MPR’s facility’s most in need of a significant overhaul from the ground up.

The board agreed to schedule a workshop dedicated to discussing funding priorities at a date to be determined in September.

Robertson-Crist flooding

Stubblefield said that he and City Manager Greg McDanel met with an engineer to discuss options for how to deal with drainage issues that result in flooding from the pond at Robertson-Crist Park onto Lisa Lane and 16th Street after heavy rains.

The issue has been one of the top priorities of City Council member John McBride, who has pressed for attention to the problem from city staff at nearly every council meeting since he was sworn in in April.

Stubblefield said that the city plans to include funding for a storm drainage study in next year’s budget, which starts October 1. The study will give the city and MPR options and estimated costs for redirecting the drainage from the pond and integrating better storm drainage systems on Lisa Lane and 16th Street.

Splash ‘N’ Play maintenance

All major remaining maintenance issues at the Thomson Splash ‘N’ Play have been fixed or worked out, Stubblefield said.

Since the park’s opening on Memorial Day, MPR staff have worked at all hours to figure out the subtleties of the splash pad’s operations, including having to manually turn the water on and off each day because of an activator switch mechanism that didn’t work correctly.

Another unforeseen issue, Stubblefield said, was the water filters in the system’s recirculating underground tank were being used up at a much faster rate than they were rated to. After looking into the issue, Stubblefield said the estimates for the filters’ useful life didn’t factor in the high volume of body oils, sunscreen, sweat and any other substances that are washed off the hundreds of children who use the park each day.

To solve the problem, MPR has begun adding enzymes to the water designed to break down the oils that are particularly tough on the filters. He said he’s noticed a difference already and it should keep the filters lasting longer.

MPR board member Adam Teale praised and thanked Stubblefield, Facility Maintenance Supervisor Steve Griffith and other parks staff who have paid special attention to the splash pad since its opening, often spending hours of off-time working at the new park to keep it functioning properly and determining best maintenance practices as they went along with a brand new system.

Board vacancy

Charlie Clodfelter, who joined the MPR Board of Directors in December, has resigned, leaving a vacancy on the board.

Clodfelter is leaving Maryville and moving to Rock Port.

Anyone interested in the position should fill out an application, available on the city’s website, Maryville.org, under the Government tab, then by clicking on “Boards and Commissions.”

To be eligible for the board, applicants must have lived in the city for at least the past year and not be a member or employee of the city government.

Other MPR notes

  • All pumps have been repaired and are in use at the Maryville Aquatic Center.
  • Aquatic center staff received the highest grade on a lifeguard audit carried out this month, prompting praise from Stubblefield and in a report from Facilities Supervisor Maggie Rockwood.
  • Attendance at the aquatic center for June was 6,466, and attendance at the community center was 4,396 — both up significantly from last year when both facilities were hampered by COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Stubblefield said MPR is looking into options for reintegrating an irrigation system for fields at Donaldson-Westside Park. According to Stubblefield, there is a system for at least part of the fields, but the irrigation heads have been buried and inaccessible for years and there is no map to determine their location, likely necessitating digging a new well to connect to the existing system, in addition to other improvements.
  • Recreation Supervisor Monica Ottman has submitted her resignation, effective Aug. 23. She accepted a position as recreation athletic coordinator on Daniel Island in Charleston, South Carolina, and will start there on Aug. 30, she said in a Facebook post.
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