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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Resident questions ramp to Parker Library parking area

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

A Parker City resident criticized the Parker City Council for paying to have this ramp constructed for a future parking lot for the Parker Library. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

By Roger Sims, Journal staff

PARKER – A recently completed ramp between street level and the sidewalk on the south side of the Parker Library drew criticism from a former city council member earlier this month.

Tim Griffin asked the Parker City Council at its Sept. 14 meeting why the city paid nearly $6,900 for the 20-by-20-foot ramp, implying that it should have been the library's responsibility.

Councilman Jason Webber responded that because the ramp, which goes from street level to just over a foot above the street by the time it reaches the sidewalk, was on city property.

The library board has announced intentions to build a parking area on the east side of the library building, and the height of the curb would have at that section of Main Street would have presented an access problem.

“I call that a want,” Griffin said. He then asked Webber if he was on the library board.

Webber said that he was.

Griffin suggested the city should replace playground equipment at Heritage Park instead building ramps.

“I call that a need and not a want,” he said.

The council has directed that city maintenance supervisor Dever Scott close off the slide at the park because it has been damaged and is no longer safe for children to use.

The council, lacking two of its five members at the meeting, split 2-to-1 on a decision to buy an extended warranty for a tractor it recently purchased. The tractor, a 2022 Case IH Farmall, was purchased for $41,000 less trade-in earlier in the summer.

Scott reported that the cost on the extended 48-month warranty varied from $1,600 for the minimum plan up to $3,200 for the premium plan.

Webber, who made the motion to purchase the premium plan, and Councilman Gary Earley voted to make the purchase. Councilwoman Jody Bloodgood voted against the measure.

The council also heard a pitch from Police Chief Craig Haley and Officer Cody Kiser to purchase new body cameras for the city’s police department. Haley and Kiser have been using donated body “cams.”

Kiser told the council that the audio on the current cameras doesn’t work 90% of the time, and that the cables connecting the cameras are often damaged.

The policemen suggested purchasing two body cam and Taser packages being offered by Axon Enterprise for $15,450 over a five-year period. The city would pay $3,090 a year over that period.

Haley said the department didn’t necessarily need the Tasers, but the company was offering them as a package deal for much less than the usual price.

In arguing for purchasing the new body cams, the policemen also cited better sound and picture quality as well as the ability to store video to offsite Axon computer storage for later retrieval rather than having to be uploaded to a flash drive.

Kiser said the video on the flash drives could be altered but the video on the Axon “cloud” could not be changed.

Haley pointed out that, in a time where police have increasingly become the targets of civil liability lawsuits, the body cams have become essential.

Webber made a motion to buy the two body cam and Taser packages, but he did not get a second from Bloodgood or Earley, who wanted to set a separate meeting for more information.

“I’m not against it, I just want to know more about it,” Earley said.

Bloodgood said her reason for voting against the measure was concerns about the budget for the remainder of the year.

Haley said that the price offer was only good until Sept. 22. And he reminded the council that the cameras were protection for the city against lawsuits.

Following a brief demonstration of the cameras, Webber suggested using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funds for the first year of the purchase and again made a motion for the purchase.

The council unanimously approved the purchase.

In other business:

  • Haley told the council that Parker’s Night Out Against Crime would be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 21. He said that hot dogs would be served and the Linn County Sheriff’s Office would be doing demonstrations, the county fire department would have a firetruck there, and game warden Mitch Fall would have a tracking dog at the event. The council voted unanimously to approve $200 to help fund the event.

  • Approved a conditional-use permit for Ross Hendrickson at 404 E. Woodward to have up to 20 goats and two bottle calves on his property for one year.

  • Heard Haley request an amendment to the ordinances covering Parker Lake. He said that there have been people camping there for an unreasonable amount of time. He suggested that camping stays be limited to seven days and that the time between camping at the lake and returning to camp again be set at 14 days.

  • Approved a proclamation making Sept. 17 - 23 Constitution Week following a presentation by Parker area resident Rene Slinkard.

  • Heard Haley suggest that the municipal court dockets have been very crowded and suggested that a second monthly date be set for court.

  • Heard a suggestion from Scott that an area behind the city garage could be cleared away to make room tor the police department to use as an impound yard.

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