Grants help drive improvements in St. Johns’ parks

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Newly implemented military memorial at St. Johns' main park provided by Jason Dunn

Newly implemented military memorial at St. Johns' main park provided by Jason Dunn

By Jason Dunn
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

ST. JOHNS — The city of St. Johns has seen a steady intake of state-allocated grant money to complete various projects across the city.

For small towns like St. Johns though, grant money drives large scale projects; without it, they would probably not be completed.

In the St. Johns recreation community particularly, one main park and six pocket parks surround the city.

Recreation Director William Schafer mentions that although the city doesn’t receive grants for smaller projects, appropriating grant money along with raising money on the city level for bigger projects is very important.

“The main thing that we have completed was the spray park. We actually didn’t get a grant for that one, but we got the Rails for Trails completed. For the rest of this stuff, we got a grant to re-do the bathrooms for the spray park,” he said. “We did have some bathrooms re-done, it wasn’t a part of the grant, though. We added more to the volleyball court, something else that we did on our own.

“For any project larger than $5,000, as a city, we have to go out and get a bid proposal from at least three firms. We’ve never worked with RJM Design before, but they were the lowest bidder. When you’re looking at smaller projects, you try to conserve money, so you go with the lowest bidder.”

The Potential Capital Improvement Plan holistically details how important general funds and donations truly are for the city. Without them, grant money would not suffice in regards to highly coveted projects in all of St. Johns’ parks.

Capital Improvement Plan provided by Jason Dunn

Capital Improvement Plan provided by Jason Dunn

When asked about how projects are ranked, Schafer mentions that order of importance is predicated on a combination of citizens’ comments on the community survey, along with what the recreation committee deems most imperative.

“There is a lot more to this action plan than the last one. In here, we broke down what we wanted to do at each one. Restroom renovations. These are important because the kids like to destroy them,” he said.

“Then we decided on installing new playground equipment. Then we rank them in order of priority. A lot of the projects labeled in the action plan are the community building types of projects where if someone decided that they wanted to spend X amount of dollars, we have the property to do it on,” he said. “It’s just a matter of having the funds to do it.”

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