After five years of trying by the Town of Wheatfield for a grant to make improvements at Wheatfield's Fairmount Park, it looks like the state has finally come through.
Only problem is that the town is required to match the $350,000 grant in either cash or services, and town officials, still struggling to eliminate the town's deficit, aren't sure they can afford it.
The board met Monday to discuss the issue in a special meeting after a motion was tabled at the Jan. 24 meeting that would have authorized $7,500 for the town's architects to provide conceptual design and preliminary cost estimating for the project.
Questions from the board members included possibilities such as reducing the scope of the project to something that may be more easily handled financially, possibly cutting back from two sets of handicapped-accessible toilet facilities down to one set, reducing the number and length of walkways, and cutting back on the amount of work done to upgrade the playground. The original plan also includes some exercise stations along the walkways and adding more trees.
"Even though the project can be reimbursed up to 50 percent of the cost, borrowing $350,000 will still cost taxpayers around $20,000 per year for 20 years if we proceed with the full project," Supervisor Bob Cliffe said. "All board members believe that this is a good and necessary project. However, with all of the items cut from the present budget to attempt to make it balance, the improvement in the park seems limited when compared with the cost."
The board on Monday decided to authorize Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers to proceed with determining anticipated costs for various parts of the whole project. Working with the board liaisons (councilmen Larry Helwig and Gil Doucet), engineers will prepare a proposal for a smaller version of the project that will include itemized costs.
"The board will then meet again to determine whether or not to proceed with all, some or none of the improvements in question," Cliffe said.