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Streator budget issues tighten Park Board plans for 2020

Marilla Park dredging project still moving forward

The Streator Park Board received some bad news Tuesday: There isn’t enough money in the budget for some projects they may want to complete in 2020.

City Manager David Plyman told board members during their first meeting of the year the city is currently expecting a $250,000 budget deficit.

The Park Board asked about the status of equipment for Central Park in the lot south of the former Sherman School.

“The decision to spend the money is still available, but it’ll have the same outcome in terms of a financial decision,” Plyman said. “We’re going to work with the department heads to get changes made to free up money for park improvements.”

Chairman Gary Wheeler was under the impression the money from the previous year’s budget could be used to get the equipment this year. Plyman said he wasn’t sure, and a decision will need to be made later.

Plyman said Streator’s financial constraints come from a rising cost of governance and a tax base that isn’t growing with the cost, meaning some maintenance and park changes will have to wait for a later time to see what the financial issues are. 

Equipment for the Central Park playground has not been ordered.

The dredging project at Marilla Park, however, is not in jeopardy, as it’s still expected to be performed by volunteers from a local trade union.

“The people working for the city all want to see Streator benefit and improve,” Plyman said. “Wherever we have disagreements, it’s not about right or wrong. People just want us to do more than we have the resources to do. We’re all on board, but we can’t make it happen.”

The Park Board also addressed vandalism concerns. The picnic tables at both the Greenway Trail and the Hopalong Cassidy Trail both recently have been thrown into the river by vandals, and when they were tied further into the ground, vandals showed up with bolt cutters. Currently, a trash can from one of the trails is floating in the Vermilion River. 

Plyman said if this keeps happening, the city will have to get rid of the tables along the trails.

The Park Board has moved to quarterly meetings rather than monthly, so the next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 13.

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