Blanding City Council welcomes volunteer effort to replace dirt at ball fields

More than a dozen Blanding residents have sent letters in the past few months asking that the infield dirt be replaced at the city ball fields in Centennial Park. The dirt has reportedly never been replaced, which is suggested every so often in part for safety reasons.

When Recreation Director David Palmer presented an estimate to the city council, the costs came in higher than anticipated. Since that time Palmer has researched and applied for grants.

In the meantime, Blanding resident Jimmy Johnson met with Palmer, Council member Kellen Nielson, and City Manager David Johnson to look at some quicker alternatives.

At the April 27 city council meeting, David Johnson explained the city is constrained by budget, but Jimmy Johnson floated the idea of getting items donated, which would speed up the process and cut a lot of red tape.

As a result, community members are volunteering to donate time, resources and funding to cover the costs to replace the infield dirt.

The council gave legitimacy to those efforts by providing consent to move forward with the project.

As a result, in the near future, probably in about a month, Palmer will provide an outline of the plan including the detail of the work to be done, where funding and resources will come from, and an outline of how much the city might be asked to contribute to the project.

David Johnson explained that the city will work to have future needs planned in advance so they can fall within the city budget.

“We should have been planning for this,” said Johnson. “That’s why when I first got here I said we really need to focus on all of our departments creating long-term master plans and capital plans so that we can know, oh in five years, we need to save up for new baseball dirt, or for new sand in the filter for the pool or whatever the case might be.”

Also at the meeting, the council voted to wait until the next city council meeting to sign the city agreement with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to bring power to the Westwater community, west of Blanding.

The move was suggested by City Attorney Kendall Laws, who wants to clarify some wording that has changed since the prior version of the contract. At the meeting, the council made clear that they are still on-board with the project but want to give adequate time to review the contract.

The council also approved an extension of the bond for the Meadowlark Subdivision. The approved subdivision project was delayed as the local developer considered selling the project to a third party. After deciding they would construct the project themselves, Windscape Development asked for a one-year extension of the bond in order to complete the project.

The council also heard from Economic Development Director Pratt Redd. Redd reports the city will extend their request for proposals to allow local guided outfitters to rent out space in the visitor center. The proposal would allow businesses to set up a spot in the visitor center to offer tours and outings. In exchange for the space the city would receive either rent or a portion of sales made at the center.

Additionally, Redd presented the council with options for new Blanding City welcome signs on the north and south ends of town.

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