Park Board passes preliminary budget

Minot Park Board unanimously passed the preliminary budget for 2014 with expenditures coming to $10,558,335, an increase of about $1.09 million over last year’s budget of $9,467,550, at a special meeting held Wednesday afternoon at Maysa Arena.

“This is a good list of projects,” said parks director Ron Merritt of the larger parts of the $3,082,013 in total capital improvement projects. “It’s fun to work on projects that aren’t flood related.”

On that note, Merritt spoke of his happiness that they were able to reduce the number of estimated mill levies by about four points, from 32.62 for 2013 to 28.4 for 2014. The mills had remained stable for the previous two years to work on flood repairs.

“There are going to be new businesses and homes that are going to be paying taxes next year that didn’t before,” he said of the reduction. “So some of the increase in our levies is just due to growth.”

A project that got a lot of talk is improving the facilities at Hammond Park in northeast Minot at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Third Street. According to the preliminary budget there is $500,000 in the facilities fund for Hammond.

“We’re way under with a complete renovation of Hammond Park. We’ll probably bid it out this winter to start in the spring,” Merritt told The Minot Daily News. “By the mid-summer, end of summer, there’s going to be brand new tennis courts, brand new basketball courts, new fence, landscaping. It’s going to be really nice.”

The proposal is to expand the tennis courts from their current six to 10 courts in total, after tearing down the old, aging courts including the basketball courts. The new basketball courts will be located in a lot the district owns across the street to the west.

Radio City Park, in southeast Minot at 37th Avenue and Second Avenue, will see improvements, too, when the city redoes 37th Avenue from the Chrysler Center into the developed area to the east of there. The district will add a parking lot off the street to accommodate a basketball court, restrooms and “maybe a walking trail.”

Maysa Arena will see fixes to the road perhaps starting as soon as the fall to finish by next summer, as well as additional parking.

Likewise, Centennial Park, which includes the Jack Hoeven Baseball Park, along the western U.S. Highway 83 Bypass, will have its gravel roads and parking lot paved.

Finally, uncertainty is found in Oak Park.

“We haven’t decided for sure,” Merritt said of changes to the park. “We’ve got two projects over there that we want to do. One would be a new amphitheater. The other is a new picnic shelter that’s enclosed like a three seasons shelter.”

The amphitheater already has some outside funding from corporate donations following the flood and others that were specifically structured for improving Oak Park.

“So we’re budgeting a little more money,” Merritt said of the new $150,000 in funding to add to the $28,300 in last year’s capital improvement money for the park. “If they choose the amphitheater we can start on it in the spring.”

On the revenue side, the district is expecting a total of $7,083,335 in receipts from funding sources ranging from building levies, general funding, state aid, to Wee Links passes and zoo concessions. There will be $1,275,000 in fund balance allocation and $1,700,000 in bond revenue from the flood recovery.