Members have been appointed to the new Winamac Park Board. During a special meeting Tuesday, the town council voted to appoint Republicans Chris Schramm and Brad Zellers and Democrats John Chapman and Courtney Poor.
There was some discussion about whether Zellers, who is also Winamac’s town manager, should instead be appointed as a nonvoting liaison between the town council and the park board, a setup preferred by Zellers. In the end, though, council members decided to appoint him as one of the four voting members.
The park board is seen as a way for Winamac to open up new opportunities for grant funding, and provide an official entity to oversee the construction and operation of the town’s proposed swimming pool. Clerk-Treasurer Melanie Berger explained how the new park board is expected to work, “They’ll create their own budget. They’ll work within their budget. They can hire a secretary if it can fit into their budget, so it’s something they’ll have to work with everyone on how their budget is and how it works. Everything still runs through here. We still do all of their receipting in, for any of their revenue. We still pay out all the bills.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, the town council opted to stay with a four-member park board for the time-being. Town Attorney Justin Schramm reminded council members that they would be able to increase that number in the future, if they so desire. However, any additional members would have to be chosen by either the Eastern Pulaski School Board or the Pulaski County Public Library Board, not the town council.
Park board members will eventually serve four-year terms, but the council voted to vary the length of their initial terms, so a member will be up for reappointment each year. Zellers was appointed for four years initially, Poor for three years, Schramm for two years, and Chapman for one.
To learn more about how the park board might operate, Winamac officials recently visited Monticello. Zellers says they gained a lot of valuable insight, “Monticello sends out a questionnaire to see what their people in the community want to see in their parks. They said that’s really a positive thing, makes people feel involved, and that tends to move things ahead. They do get a lot of grant opportunities. You know, for the pool, that’s going to be huge. They gave me two names of different grants that we can look at and apply for, for that.”
Before Winamac can begin seeing the benefits of having a park board, the town needs to complete a five-year master plan for its parks. The first order of business for the new board will be to meet with the town attorney to establish a charter. That will specify which powers belong to the park board and which remain with the town council.