Meeting with the Mayor:

From time to time, Lamar Mayor, Kirk Crespin and The Prowers Journal will get together to discuss and review developments of interest to Lamar residents and the surrounding community.  The hope is, the better informed a community is on matters that pertain to them, the more involved they can become with their local municipal government and stay abreast of matters that potentially impact their lives.

While the summer rains have brought some welcome relief, they’ve also brought greener yards and meaner weeds.  Mayor Kirk Crespin discussed the work of the code enforcement department in Lamar and the city’s efforts to maintain a clean, attractive community in both the residential and downtown areas.

“We recognize the problems that come with tall weeds and try to address the problems before they get out of hand,” Crespin explained, adding, “This isn’t a next day, turn-around solution as the code enforcement officers need to give a warning which comes with an expiration date and if a ticket is given, there is also a time line for going to court and getting a judgement before we can get a homeowner to take any action.”  He said that with a yard-oriented warning, even if the owner takes action on that notice, he may still take a few days before the weeds get mowed down.

In a nuts-and-bolts scenario, the city can only travel so far on its budget and the number of people in a department.  “We do address problem areas, but sometimes our citizens notice the areas we haven’t covered yet instead of the problems we’ve fixed.”  Crespin said we are unable to work on all areas at the same time and we can get into a cycle where, once we’ve addressed the first problem area in a list of many, sometimes when we’ve completed the cycle, the original problem needs to be addressed again.

“We take notice of the downtown commercial sector of the city and there are some problems that have to be taken care of.  There are occasions where a property owner just isn’t willing to bring their buildings up to an acceptable level and that disappointing as those commercial properties are being viewed by residents and visitors alike.  We try to find a way to have them take pride in their business which translates into pride in our community,” he stated.

The mayor said the city spends a lot of time maintaining our local parks which can be a challenge.  “It’s almost a constant battle to keep these areas clean and we want to go all out because our parks are open to everyone to view and to use.  We’ve spent a lot of time making North Gateway Park into a better recreation area with the beach, restrooms, pavilions and the paddleboat rental business.  We had a dedication just a few weeks ago, but already, in just a couple of days’ time, we have litter on the beach along with broken bottles and trash thrown around instead of the receptacles set up for refuse.”  Crespin said the problem exists in all parks and recently at Willow Creek Park, the city had addressed graffiti and some vandalism, especially the skateboard park.

“We invested about a half a million dollars turning that open area into a skateboard park.  It’s a place that our residents told us they specifically wanted.  And I know that most of the people that use it, respect and help to keep it clean, but there are a few, and all it takes is just a few, to ruin it for everyone.”  He said the city is going to install cameras and motion detector lights at Willow Creek and the Pocket Park downtown to record any illegal activities.  “The lights are programmed to come on after curfew so we’ll have notice someone has been in there.  We hope local residents will notice the lights and contact us so we can investigate.”

He noted that another area of concern involves the decorative plants along the downtown sidewalks.  “To date, we’ve had about seven of them broken and we budgeted their initial cost at about $500 apiece.  As small a community as we are, we have to take these security steps just to keep these areas from being vandalized.”

Mayor Crespin said the city is moving forward with another area that will offer outdoor activities with the development of Escondido Park into a first-class soccer field.  We’ve set Monday, August 23rd for the groundbreaking at noon.  The city hired Timberline Construction to lay in $500,000 work of sod and soil and an irrigation system is being installed to provide a field that can be used for years to come.  “A local soccer group, Southeast United Soccer Club in Lamar has been involved with the development as well as assistance from Lamar Community College.”  He said a playground area is being constructed and new equipment is being installed at the ballfields off Savage Avenue in Lamar.  “This will give the youngsters something to do while the older adults are involved in their ballgames.  I don’t have a timeline yet when this will be finished, but the work has already begun.”

The city has renewed its search for an administrator.  In the interim, Crespin and councilwoman Anne Marie Crampton are sharing those responsibilities, a process, Crespin, said has opened his eyes to a deeper dimension of how the various city departments collaborate to accomplish their projects.  “This has opened my eyes to a new and different perspective about what happens in the city,” he said.  He and Councilwoman, Anne-Marie Crampton, the Mayor Pro-tem have split department oversite from the city administrator’s perspective for the past several months while a search continues for a new hire.  Crespin said once that person is hired, there will be a process of having them become acclimatized to how the city operates while those tasks are eased off one desk onto another.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarFeatured

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