The new state-of-the-art skate park is set to open Saturday in Swift-Cantrell Park, with a visit from top names in the world of skateboarding, and the city has been awaiting its completion for months, said Mayor Mark Mathews.
In two phases, the city has spent $1.8 million on the skate park.
The first phase included the street-league plaza, at a cost of $1.4 million in 2011 SPLOST funds, said Pam Davis, city spokeswoman.
The second phase included the construction of the skate bowl and slow course, and was expected to cost $400,000, Davis said. The money was to have been raised by the Swift-Cantrell Park Foundation, a private nonprofit, but was unable to do so by the deadline that was set.
It would have been more expensive, Davis said, to have the contractors leave the site and then come back to construct Phase II when the foundation came up with the money, so the city decided to use some of the $600,000 in leftover 2011 SPLOST funds it had available, and wait for the foundation to reimburse the city after it raises the money from private donors.
With the completion of the park, Davis doesn’t think it will take too long to raise the funds.
“It is an absolutely incredible facility,” Davis said, “Once people see its potential for the city, it will be a whole lot easier for the foundation to get out and get sponsors.”
Mathews said when the foundation raises the $400,000, it will be spent on the park for future projects.
The city’s SPLOST rules allow the city to use remaining SPLOST funds on other city projects that are in need of more funds, according to Mathews, and the skate park is one of these projects.
Other city projects that were funded with the 2011 SPLOST, which raised $5.5 million for the city, and funded projects like the $1.8 million multi-purpose event facility at the Smith-Gilbert Gardens and $2.1 million in improvements to Depot Park, according to the city’s SPLOST summary.
City buys security scanner, dump truck
The city also unanimously approved Monday spending $155,000 on a new dump truck and a new X-ray machine for the city courthouse.
The dump truck was included in the 2014 budget, and city staff purchased a tandem-axle dump truck with hydraulic lift gate for $133,450.
The city’s courthouse will also be receiving a new security checkpoint X-ray machine, which the city bought from Astrophysics for $22,000, according to city documents.
Visitors to the courthouse will be subject to the new X-ray device to improve security in the courtroom, Mathews said.
Both purchases were approved in a 5-0 vote at the council meeting on Nov. 18. Close to 20 residents came out to the meeting, the first after a tumultuous election. Three councilmen, Bruce Jenkins, Matt Riedemann and Jeff Duckett, were voted out of office in the election, and will be replaced in January by Leonard Church, Debra Williams and Jim Sebastian.
After the council unanimously ratified the Election Day results, Jenkins and Riedemann took a moment during council comments to thank city residents for their participation in the election, and asked them to stay involved in city business.
Mathews also told residents, “I look forward to working with the new council members” to make the coming term successful.
Residents still upset about credit card use
City resident Bill Maxson approached the council and asked them, again, to be frugal with the city credit cards.
“Just because they have a city credit card, doesn’t mean they have to use them,” he said.
The council had decided at a recent work session to have the city’s Benefits Committee met to revise the city’s employee manual to make the rules on the use of the credit cards clearer for all city employees.
The city’s Benefits Committee met Tuesday afternoon, the day after the council meeting, to revise the city employee policy manual, said Jenkins, who said the manual hadn’t been updated since 2006.
One of the biggest changes in the manual will address city employees being reimbursed for travel expenses.
The policy has been unclear as to exactly who gets reimbursed on trips for city business and the city has previously reimbursed both city employees for their travel expenses, as well as the expenses of a spouse or family member, Jenkins said.
“We ain’t paying for them no more,” Jenkins said.
The mayor and council members do not have a policy manual for themselves, Jenkins said, and hopes the new council will take it upon themselves in the next term to use the revised manual as a template from which to create a manual exclusively for elected officials.
To do this, the council members, the mayor, city clerk, city manager, city attorney and ethics board would have to meet to draft a council and mayor policy handbook. Jenkins said he hopes the incoming council will make this a priority.
The revised employee handbook will be edited and brought before the council for approval, Jenkins hopes, by the end of the year, before the new council takes office.
Youth council activities
The council also heard Monday night from two members of the city’s youth council, which is overseen by Jenkins. The youth council is made up of six young residents of Kennesaw, who applied for the year-long positions, and will work with city officials to learn how the city is run, Mathews said. With the guidance from their council mentors, the two representatives at the meeting said, the council hopes to plan a dance for special-needs children in the community, as well as adopt a family for the holidays to provide needed gifts and support.