If the last meeting was any indication, the Mayor and City Council of Thomaston may be facing citizens questioning their spending at their July 7 meeting. It has been advertised in the city newsletter that the council will be voting on spending up to $800,000 for the design and construction of a combination boathouse/amphitheater, and a pavilion at the new Lake Thomaston Park.
But at their meeting on June 16, the council got an earful from one local resident supported by a roomful of others, questioning why the city is considering spending money on a new park when there are other needs in the city, such as more police officers on the streets. The Thomaston Police currently have just three officers on the night shift, and if one of them is out for whatever reason, there are only two officers patrolling the streets. That scenario has already happened several times, causing some homeowners concern over their safety and the safety of their property.
In the city’s June newsletter was the announcement of a new park opening soon. It read:
“The Mayor and City Council plan to open Lake Thomaston as a new city park in the summer of 2016. In an effort to allow our citizens the opportunity to utilize this beautiful water resource for recreation, the Mayor and City Council plan to have two structures built on the site. One will be a pavilion with attached restrooms and the other will be a boat storage building with a roof doubling as a stage for an amphitheater. The goal is to provide numerous opportunities for our citizens, including weekend rentals of canoes and small watercraft, fishing and family picnics. Citizens will also be able to utilize the 1.6-mile walking trail which is already on the site. Plans are also underway to take advantage of the natural setting of Lake Thomaston for hosting band concerts, plays, and other outdoor activities.
“This will be the first major step of the long term development of a unique recreational site for our community. This project is made possible due to the reduction in city government over the past decade. The savings accumulated by the decisions made by Mayor Hays Arnold and the City Council will make this project a reality. Anticipated costs for this phase of the Lake Thomaston Park project will be approximately $600,000 for the two structures and approximately $200,000 for site development. Construction is scheduled to begin in late summer with a completion date in late fall. Plans for this project are available at City Hall. The city council will vote on the project at the regular meeting scheduled for July 7, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the city/county room of the R. E. Lee Building of the government complex.”
But at their last meeting, resident Debbie Lord questioned why the city has raised utility rates in the past, claiming it needed the money to continue infrastructure repairs and updates, but can find money for a new park. She also questioned when the city council has discussed the new park. Lord said when she questioned two council members about the park, neither one knew anything about it. Lord suggested the money could be better used to provide more manpower in the police and fire departments, for business retention, or for lowering utility bills. Lord ran out of time for her remarks at the meeting, and vowed to be placed on the agenda for the July 7 meeting so she could continue her statement.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.