The fate of the Marionville property to be known as Logan Park appeared to be up in the air at the end of last Thursday's board of aldermen meeting, as council members argued with the man responsible for donating the land to the city.
All four items of new business for the council on the evening centered around Larry Ludwig's involvement with the park, for which he donated the land at Benton and Coleman in honor of his late wife, Earnestine.
The aldermen read and accepted Ludwig's resignation from the park advisory committee, turning over his duties as president and giving back several pieces of equipment borrowed from the city. The council then voted to accept a nomination to the committee by mayor Chris Murphy, passing unanimously a motion to appoint Diana Warth.
The next item of business was to accept Ludwig's proposed master plan for the park, which would be used to detail future grant applications regarding the site. Alderman Melissa Freeman was hesitant to accept the plan, saying she did not want to "tie up" the park board with new expenses for the upkeep of the new park. Alderman Nanette Bowling said the details of the money and responsibilities of the park board would be worked out later and everything would be given careful consideration.
Alderman Doris Rapp also asked if the city could make deviations or changes to the plan, to which Ludwig responded that he had it written into the plan that the board of aldermen would have the power to make decisions on changes.
Freeman eventually voted -- along with the other four aldermen present -- to accept the plan, after again stating her discomfort with taking on possible financial burdens from a project not started by the city or park board.
The final item of new business was a discussion on whether or not to buy a 225-gallon water tank from Ludwig for use at the park. Ludwig told the board he purchased the tank in April for $374 and had been using it to water the trees planted around the same time. He said at the time he expected he would get his money back if and when a grant came through (which did not happen).
Ludwig stated he would sell the tank to the city for the same price he bought it or put it up for sale if the board was not interested.
Freeman said she called around to city departments to find out if there were other options already available to get the trees watered. She said the park board already has a water tank and would be willing to loan it out to volunteers for tree watering, but she added she thought it wouldn't be a bad deal to buy Ludwig's tank.
After some further discussion of the options available, a motion was made not to purchase the tank. In the middle of the votes, Ludwig began to express his displeasure, saying, "if the board does not desire to purchase the tank, then you're making your statement."
The vote finished 4-1 (with Bowling voting "no") to decline to purchase the tank, at which time Murphy stated that if Ludwig still has the tank and a grant were to come through, he would "honor [his] position" to refund Ludwig for the tank, which the rest of the aldermen agreed was a fair compromise.
Ludwig then began giving a "footnote" on the item, stating, "You gave me your answer. I will not give a release on the copyright [of the master plan]."
Murphy immediately jumped to disagreement, but Ludwig continued: "If this is the thanks I get for the effort that I put out--"
The mayor interjected, saying, "Larry, you are taking this wrong. We had a spoken agreement, with witnesses, that you'd be refunded that tank money on approval of a grant. That agreement is still in effect, but if you get rid of that tank, that cancels that agreement.
"It has nothing to do with this Logan Park plan," Murphy continued. "You said, in front of all these witnesses, that if we approve this plan, you would turn it over."
Ludwig countered that he said "it would have to be in writing," which Murphy refuted.
Freeman and alderman Donna White attempted to explain that purchasing another tank when one was already available did not make sense for a "frugal board" in a "poor town" and that Ludwig should have asked if there already was a tank before purchasing one.
"It's not personal; it's our duty," said Freeman. "We have to handle [the decision of] buying something with certain considerations."
The discussion continued into the alderman comments section of the meeting, where Bowling asked that the issue be put on the agenda for the next month's meeting to make sure the master plan is in fact being turned over.
After additional alderman comments, the board adjourned until the next regular meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., August 9, at the fire station.