The Neosho Parks, Recreation and Golf Course board voted Tuesday evening to pass a resolution lending support to the renovation of the aged staircase in Big Spring Park.

The Neosho Parks, Recreation and Golf Course board voted Tuesday evening to pass a resolution lending support to the renovation of the aged staircase in Big Spring Park.

With six of the seven members present, the board revisited the same agenda items as in their Nov. 13 meeting, when only four members were in attendance and a quorum was not reached.

The board members voted 6-0 to pass the resolution, which states the board’s support for the project, and expresses their hope that it can be achieved through donations, fundraisers and city assistance.

Steve Hart, board member and the city’s mayor pro tem, said it is the council’s hope that the staircase can be repaired.
“Anything that’s been there since 1880 probably needs to be saved,” Hart said.

Linda Blake, of the Newton County Historical Society, told council members in an earlier meeting that the concrete steps had originally been poured in 1923, and were preceded by a wooden staircase, which dated back to at least the 1880s.
The concrete stairs, which connect west Spring Street with High Street, have been temporarily closed off for months, as safety issues regarding their condition have arisen.

Troy Royer, Neosho city manager, said Mike Franks and Jason Stipp, both of the Neosho Area Community Foundation, have expressed interest on behalf of the foundation in helping to fund or fund raise for the stairs project.

Royer said the city also hopes that other community members will be able to offer help as well, though he said the city will do all that they can to help finance the project.

Royer said the city’s engineer recently examined the stairs, per the council’s wishes, and indicated that the city’s plan to lay down rebar on the existing staircase and then overlay the steps with concrete is a viable option.

While the engineer’s estimate came to $54,700 total for the project, Dana Daniel, Neosho’s development services director, said he believes the city could get the project done for approximately $30,000.

Royer said work would likely not begin on the steps until at least the spring, and said he and Daniel would review the parks budget, to determine their financial options, though he indicated that there is little cushion in that budget.

The parks board also voted to endorse a resolution making changes to some golf course fees and policies.

Their vote is merely a recommendation, as the changes still have to be presented to the city council at their next meeting, set for Tuesday, Dec. 18.

The proposed changes include eliminating the Monday through noon Friday restriction on annual golf course passes, which would instead allow those holding annual passes to play using their passes seven days per week.

It will also be proposed to council that the golf course no longer accept annual passes for tournament play, and instead charge participants the tournament fee.

An annual pass is $1,200 and golf course manager Justin Beck told the board in their Nov. 13 meeting that there are less than 50 golfers who hold the year-round pass.

If approved by council, the proposed changes would also adjust the weekend and holiday charges for seniors to a set $25 fee.

Currently, there is no senior fee set for weekends.

Veterans with a military I.D. would also receive a discount, which would be the posted senior fee at that time.
The board also took up charges for younger golfers.

Golfers ages 15 and under would be charged a flat $5 fee seven days per week, while those ages 16-18 would pay normal adult fees, or could purchase a junior golfer pass for $140.

The board also heard an update from Royer regarding the city’s plans to make the golf course a city-run operation.

Beck, who is currently contracted to manage the golf course, submitted his 90-day notice to the city in mid-November, and at their Dec. 4 council meeting, council members gave Royer the OK to pursue the city-run course, following Beck’s departure.

Hart told the parks board Tuesday that the switch isn’t set in stone, but is worth a try.

“It’s a good time to try it and we have great department heads now all through the city,” Hart said. “We’re just hoping that same can transfer out here and if it doesn’t we can revisit it.”

Royer said he hopes to have a new golf course superintendent hired by mid-to-late January to begin the transition.
The board also voted Tuesday evening to accept a mission statement for their four-month old board.

The newly adopted mission statement reads, “To enrich the lives of Neosho citizens by providing accessible public places and activities.”

The Neosho Parks, Recreation and Golf Course board was formed in August, through the merging of the Golf Course Board and the Parks and Recreation Committee.

According to city ordinance, the board has nine seats, though upon the board chairman’s recommendation to council, the city council voted on first reading Dec. 4 to cut that board down to seven members.

The board members briefly discussed asking to remain a nine-member board at their Tuesday evening meeting, though ultimately decided to stick with the reduction to seven seats.

The city council is expected to take a final vote on that change in their Dec. 18 meeting.

The next Parks, Recreation and Golf Course board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15 at the Neosho Municipal Golf Course.