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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Parker SRO asks city permission to install gates for playground

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

PARKER – The Parker City Council on Thursday, March 9, seemed to be in consensus to allow Prairie View USD 362 to install gates on the chainlink fencing surrounding the playground south of Parker Elementary School.

However, before the council could move ahead with that decision, City Attorney Burton Harding suggested to wait until the council’s April meeting so he could determine if there was an ordinance prohibiting it.

The council’s willingness to allow the school district to install four gates came after Sheriff’s Deputy Kyler Parscale, the school’s resource officer, told its members that he routinely had to chase stray dogs off the playground as many as five times a week.

“I don’t want any of my kids getting bit,” he told the council.

He said the gates would only be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. when school was in session. The gates will not be locked.

The fencing on the west side of the playground is on the city right of way, and Parscale said his understanding was that there was an agreement with a former council not to install a gate. He said the district will pay to install the gates.

Parscale also noted that Woodward Street (also known as County Highway 1077), which runs along the south side of the school, was a “racetrack,” and he feared for the safety of students who crossed the road in the crosswalk.

He urged the council to invest in a lighted crosswalk sign that would activate when students crossing the road pushed a button. He said the lighted signs started at about $800 and were charged by a solar panel on the sign.

He suggested the city could apply for a local community grant from Walmart for the project. The council unanimously voted to apply for a grant.

In issues related to the city’s ongoing dispute with Dan Gaikowski, owner of Recycling Services, a metal recycling dealer on the south edge of town, two men had questions about the case.

Tim Griffin, a city resident, asked if city officials had yet tallied up the cost of the city’s two-plus year legal battle with Gaikowski. At the council’s January meeting he asked for an accounting of the legal fees and other costs the city had put into trying to regain control of the one block of South Walnut Street that Gaikowski has barred access to with a gate.

Mayor Ashley Balthazor said there was considerable amount of documents to go through, and she said it would likely be next month before all of the costs had been totaled.

That discussion led Griffin to ask for clarification on truck routes in the city, a question he also raised in the January meeting. He said as far as he could tell there was only one street in the city marked as a designated truck route: Railroad Street.

“Can big trucks just drive anywhere or is there a dedicated haul route?” he asked.

City Clerk Carrie Sewell said that the last she knew, Main Street to South Street to Walnut Street then south, the route most trucks take to the Recycling Services yard.

Semi-trailers regularly use County Road 1077, which in Parker includes Center and Woodward streets.

Mike Page, who lives just south of city limits, asked about the removal of signs placed in the right-of-way along Baptist Drive adjacent to land owned by Gaikowski. He characterized the signs as anti-Christian and also took issue with the sign proclaiming Baptist Drive to be Gaikowski Avenue.

City Attorney Burton Harding said he expected a legal filing to occur shortly, whether it is to be a contempt action or an injunction. He said that legal case for Baptist Drive had been finalized.

In other action, the council:

  • Elected Councilman Gary Earley to be pro tem president of the council. His duty will be to preside over the meetings in case of the absence of Balthazor and Council President Jason Webber.

  • Voted to widen Park Street at its intersection with Main Street using gravel for the temporary fix.

  • Approved spending up to $1,000 to have Chad Page haul off the burn pile at the city’s compactor site. Page said it would take four to five dump truck loads at a cost of $200 a load. He said he plans to dump the loads on his property.

  • Approved the purchase of a mosquito fogger for about $11,900.

  • Discussed requests by several residents for new culverts. Page, who has a contract to do maintenance for the city, asked City Clerk Carrie Sewell to send a list of properties that needed the work. He also suggested that in many cases, the existing culverts need to be cleaned out.

  • Received a request from Police Chief Craig Haley for the council to consider an ordinance that would limit off-road vehicle use at the city lake. He said the vehicles are doing damage there.

  • Voted to accept sealed bids on a car that had been used as a police vehicle. Sewell said several people have asked about purchasing the car.

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