by Dennis Dalman
Should the Sartell Park Commission be disbanded?
The Sartell City Council discussed that question at length at the Nov. 24 council meeting and decided that, no, it should not.
The vote was 3-2, with former mayor Joe Perske and council members Amy Braig-Lindstrom and David Peterson voting not to disband, and former council members Steve Hennes and Sarah Jane Nicoll voting to disband the commission.
The suggestion to perhaps disband came from some members of the park commission who began to wonder if the commission is really effective or necessary. For one thing, members most often feel reluctant to recommend actions for parks, knowing they do not have any budgetary power and the council has to work carefully within its budget for park-related projects.
Council members noted there are many active and involved “doers” on the park commission. Some have been community volunteers for years. Some council members said the city should help them become involved directly in city projects if the commission is disbanded. They could perhaps work with the school system to help create amenities for the schools or they could be more directly engaged with beautification projects, council members suggested.
Sartell City Administrator Mary Degiovanni, who attends the park commission as a city liaison member, said it might be preferable to channel the energies of the commission members into other areas rather than just meeting once a month on the park commission. Degiovanni said some commission members have wondered why they should meet if they are not serving a definite purpose.
Some of those direct involvements, council members suggested, could include the Dog Park project, starting an Adopt-a-Park program, working with people to improve Central Park or working with the community-education program.
“I have a hard time disbanding (the commission) without something in its place,” Perske said. “We (the council) will need some kind of recommendations (regarding parks).”