EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The Evansville City Council debated for over an hour about the future of the city’s parks. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke announced this summer that he was allocating $1 million towards the construction of Roberts Park. In September, Councilwoman Missy Mosby (Ward 2), said she would be submitting an amendment to the 2022 city budget, asking for that money to be redirected.
Mosby said that the current parks that are already in Evansville need immediate attention and that city officials need to tend to what they have before building something new. Mosby says she’s been advocating for families in Evansville who she says don’t have safe and welcoming parks to go to.
“Our boat ramps are in total disrepair. Our parks – kids won’t even go play and parents…parents call me crying because it’s not safe to take their kids there,” said Mosby.
She asked that the Council and Parks Department take the $1 million and dedicate it towards the city’s current parks. After a heated debate, the council voted against her ideas. Interim Parks Director and Deputy Mayor Steve Schaefer said fixing the current parks is in their plans.
“We can do both. We can with an increased amount of money for park maintenance we can take care of what we have and also build upon Roberts Park,” said Schaefer.
He told the council that there was $300,000 from the city budget that they would be dedicating towards the immediate needs and repairs. He said the department needed to make a long-term strategic plans for more funding to become available in the future. He said to be within state compliance, there must be a plan in place.
Schaefer added that they would revisit the topic and reevaluate if there needed to be more money allocated to the current parks. Council members Mosby and Weaver said they thought that number was simply too low for the extent of the needs. The councilmembers debated over mixed feelings. Some said they were grateful for the amount they were given.
“Everybody always says, oh we can get more money. Well why is it not put in this budget then? If they know we need more money and they know there’s more money that they can allocate, why did they just put $300,000 in instead of more?” added Mosby.
Schaefer said they were off to a good start. He added, “we’ve made a commitment of [$300,000], we’ve made a commitment to come back and ask for more funding if needed. So really, we’re all arguing about the same thing. We’re all on the same page I think. It’s just how we get there.”
Councilman Beane said he agreed that the amount given was too low for the needs, but that they would accept it and continue to work for more. Mosby said she felt defeated and saddened by the vote. She said she would continue to fight to improve the city’s current parks.
Mosby’s amendment was voted against 6 to 3. Councilmembers Elpers, Mosby and Weaver voted in favor.