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Mayor's Notebook: Let's work together to improve Sibley Lake Park

Rumors, rumors, rumors.

Remember when I suggested several years ago that if you hear something strange, follow up by calling city hall (568-5222) or the mayor’s office (568-2355)? Well, last week I learned that the city is going to sell Sibley Lake Park — is it true?

Absolutely not!

But, on behalf of the Park Board members who work very hard to make our parks top-notch, let me give you some background.

Sibley Lake Park, located at the end of Sibley Street directly above Sibley Lake, is most likely what you would call “an original Pequot park.” It is actually located on Pequot Boulevard, a section that, if one were to be honest, needs repair/redesign.

On a bluff above the lake, it has magnificent old Norway pines that tower high into the sky. On the other hand, these tall trees block the sun and make the park dark.

Quite a number of years ago, playground equipment was installed; but the key words here are “quite a number of years ago.” Over the years, playground equipment has changed, becoming both more exciting and more colorful.

In addition, the park is underutilized by people you would like to see use it and overutilized by an element you’d prefer not to be there. This has been a dilemma for the Park Board for many years.

To top it off, the stairs down to the lake are in serious need of repair and the first estimate was $70,000.

In April, a park survey was designed and put on the city website. Cathy Malecha, Park Board chair, and I delivered this survey to homes in the area. There were some positive, concrete suggestions given to improve the park. As you can imagine, new playground equipment, better lighting, removal of light posts and better parking were among the top priorities.

This May, the Park Board met at Sibley Lake Park. Sandy Peine, city clerk, was there with her pen and paper to take notes. A lot of brainstorming of ideas took place — and, as I hope you are aware, whenever brainstorming takes place, ALL ideas should be tossed onto the paper. A few will rise to the top, most will not.

Yes, selling Sibley Lake Park to use the funds for another park was suggested. Did it rise to the top? No, it was one of the first ideas the board eliminated when it analyzed ideas.

The Park Board made a list of priorities for the park but, as you can guess, they all add up to a lot of money.

Several goals for the park are being achieved: The Sibley Lake Association has donated funds to repair/replace the bottom section of the stairs leading to the fishing pier the association had donated a number of years ago. A 4-H group will design a dog park and put it into place on the southern portion of the park to draw people to the park. The group raised approximately $400 toward its goal at the recent Pet Parade, but still has a long way to go to cover the cost of fencing the area.

Sibley Lake Park has a long, healthy life ahead of it. On the other hand, it also needs a good amount of funds to make it a successful park — one where residents and visitors will take their children and grandchildren (and dogs) to play on fun, updated equipment.

This should be a priority for all of us. Let’s work together to achieve this goal.