City gets $20,000 playground grant

Funds would go to replace aging Swager Park equipment

Aging playground equipment in Oak Park Heights’ Swager Park would be replaced using a grant from the KaBOOM! Playful Cities group. The city has until mid-September 2014 to raise $40,000 and get volunteers to help install the new equipment. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The city has almost a year to make the aging Swager Park playground equipment go KaBOOM.

The Oak Park Heights City Council Tuesday authorized submitting a letter of agreement to  KaBOOM-Playful Cities as part of that organization’s $20,000 grant to the city for construction of new playground amenities at Swager Park.

City Administrator Eric Johnson said the city’s Park Commission applied for the KaBOOM grant to replace Swager Park’s 30-year-old playground equipment.

Johnson said the KaBOOM agreement requires the city to commit $40,000 to the project, buy the new equipment from one of KaBOOM’s preferred vendors and install the equipment through a community-build effort by Sept. 14, 2014.

The agreement describes the community-build model as using volunteers to plan, design, raise funds and construct a community playground.

Oak Park Heights is a KaBOOM-designated “playful city” and used a similar grant two years ago to install playground equipment at the old Moelter fly ash disposal site.
Because Swager Park is located directly under Xcel Energy power lines, Johnson said any new playground equipment would be non-conductive.

In other action, the council agreed to delay approval of the city’s 2013-2014 snowplowing contract with Raleigh Trucking at Councilman Mark Swenson’s request.
Public Works Director Andrew Kegley said in a memo that Raleigh increased its standby fee for the period November 2013 to March 2014 to $1,800 from $1,600 and raised its overtime rate from $10 per hour to $16 per hour for work done Sundays and Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Kegley notes in his memo that Raleigh charged the city the overtime premium three times last winter for a total of $677.

Swenson, who is Bayport Fire Department chief, pulled Raleigh’s contract from the council’s consent agenda and asked if it contained provisions for clearing plowed snow away from fire hydrants. Like many smaller cities, Oak Park Heights asks homeowners living near fire hydrants to help clear snow away from hydrants.
Swenson wanted to know if city officials asked Raleigh Trucking about clearing snow from hydrants as part of the new contract.

“There is a price difference and I think you will want to see it,” said City Attorney Mark Vierling.

Johnson said city officials would check with Raleigh Trucking on a price for clearing snow from hydrants and bring the contract back to the council in October.

And Mayor Mary McComber reminded residents of the city’s fall clean-up from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Anderson Corp. parking lot.

Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]