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There’s a lot of recreation news, folks

More advisory members named, farmers market to Mushroom Park

SOLON– There’s a lot of recreation news, folks.
The agenda for the Solon City Council last week was dominated by decisions about new recreation programs and projects, including continued appointments to a new recreation advisory team, the dissolution of the Solon Parks and Recreation Commission, an application to Iowa Great Places for the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA) in support of a splash pad and the selection of Mushroom Park as the location of a new farmers market.
But council members managed to conclude all the business before them April 18 in just over 30 minutes, thanks in part to having previously discussed the issues at length during a joint meeting with the Parks and Recreation Commission April 4.
At that meeting, commission members shared their work on developing rules and regulations for a city-sponsored open market on Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m. in season.
Originally, the commission was seeking to utilize a private parking lot on Highway 1, but concerns about parking on grass and a desire to see the farmers market downtown prompted a proposal to shift the location to Mushroom Park.
Council members also suggested youth groups or non-profit organizations be considered for waivers from vendor insurance requirements.
No action was taken April 4, but at the April 18 meeting, council members were asked to make a formal decision regarding the program, including its relocation to Mushroom Park.
“Council just didn’t have a lot of time to look at it before that meeting,” City Administrator Cami Rasmussen explained.
Council members were provided a concept for utilizing the downtown park, prepared by Solon Public Works Director Scott Kleppe, which proposed placing vendors on the south side of the park’s parking lot, leaving close to 20 stalls open for public use.
“He feels it’s doable,” Rasmussen noted.
Discussion ensued on allowing local youth groups to participate without having to obtain the required $1 million insurance policy, and Rasmussen asked for direction on how to define exempted groups.
“A lot of peddler’s permits have exceptions for 501c3s (non-profits),” City Attorney Kevin Olson suggested.
Council member Lynn Morris asked whether 4-H or school groups would be considered non-profits.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Morris said. “I just want to make sure they are able to do that.”
“Who’s going to police it all?” asked Mayor Steve Stange.
Rasmussen and Olson explained it would be up to the market’s managers.
The commission members adapted the Solon program and many of its rules from suggestions by the market masters, who are currently in charge of the Ely Farmers Market.
Council member Shawn Mercer questioned whether the city also wanted to adopt an age limit, to ensure only youth were able to take advantage of relaxed rules.
“Does creating the 501c3 create like a loophole for adults to bypass the fee or the insurance requirement?” he asked.
Council member Mark Prentice also spoke in support of an age requirement.
The mayor didn’t share the same concerns regarding possible abuse.
“I don’t think you’re going to have any problems with that,” Stange said. “They’re the same people that are working Beef Days and all that other stuff. If it is a problem, we can address it down the road.”
Council members approved the rules and regulations for the farmers market unanimously, with the change in location and amended language exempting non-profits.

Recreation Advisory Team
Also approved was a condensed reading of an ordinance repealing the Solon Parks and Recreation Commission.
The city is doing away with the group, replacing it with a 10-member Solon Recreation Advisory Team.
Council members waived the requirement to approve the second and third readings of the ordinance at separate meetings and passed both with a single vote.
The new advisory group will allow for input from rural residents regarding Solon recreation programs.
The team will make recommendations for the development of recreation areas, facilities, activities and programs, as well as associated rules, regulations and fees, to the city council, but will not have direct oversight of staff and finances.
Five parks and recreation commission members– Brian Fitzpatrick, Kelsey Bumsted, Shannon Hansel, Kelli Andresen and Brock Peters– and a new appointee, Matt Anson– were voted onto the team at the April 4 joint meeting.
Three potential rural delegates– Melissa Tiedemann, Patrick Alvord and Lynn Rose– were presented by Mayor Stange on April 18 and were subsequently approved by council.
One position remains to be filled.
Up to five of the 10 members of the advisory group can reside outside the city limits.

Iowa Great Places
Tiedemann, chair of the splash pad committee, appeared before council members moments later requesting support for an application to the Iowa Great Places program.
“The Great Places program is an opportunity for Solon to be recognized by the State of Iowa as a great place, because we all know it is,” Tiedemann said. “But it also opens the door for a lot of funding.”
A part of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the program highlights and supports the development of unique and authentic qualities of communities.
Tiedemann said Solon’s application as a great place will focus on the SRNA, with any associated state money used in support of the city’s splash pad and shelter project.
The overall project includes a handicap accessible splash pad area (about 50 feet in diameter) and an open shelter with restrooms and changing area adjacent to the city’s new ground storage water reservoir.
“For a community of this size to have a recreation facility like we have here in Solon is something that I think we need to bring the state’s attention to,” she said.