The Jackson Board of Aldermen on Monday night heard a grievance from a local business owner who said the city's parks are in "terrible shape."
Brenda Pfefferkorn, who has owned Tender Care Playhouse in Jackson for 22 years, said the parks are in such disrepair that she is forced to travel to Cape Girardeau to use its parks for the children in her care.
Pfefferkorn showed the board photographs of broken and missing bathroom fixtures, restrooms without doors and playground equipment she said is improperly installed and dangerous for children. The city's parks generally lack adequate structures for children ages 4 through 10, she said.
But it was the lock on the water spigots at the playgrounds that prompted her to contact Mayor Barbara Lohr, who Pfefferkorn said encouraged her to approach the board. Pfefferkorn said that Shane Anderson, Jackson parks director, told her the water was locked due to abuse. After seeing a child rinsing a bloody injury in a park water fountain because the bathrooms did not have running water, Pfefferkorn began to have concerns about sanitation.
City administrator Jim Roach said misuse of the water in the parks, such as leaving it on for extended periods, led to the decision to lock it. When residents rent the park shelters, the water is unlocked, he said. He also said that the city has adequate equipment for ages 2 through 12.
Roach said that vandalism had led to a number of actions by the parks department to protect residents, such as removing doors to bathrooms to prevent people hiding in them.
Pfefferkorn urged the board to consider alternatives, and Roach said it would.
"We can relook at some of those issues." Roach said.
In other business, the board voted 7-1 to approve commercial zoning for more than half of the Nine Oaks subdivision.
Applications to rezone a number of lots in the neighborhood were made by B&R Developers LLC of Jackson, Ron and Marcia Clark, Bobby and Jane Clark, Clark & Sons Excavating LLC of Jackson, Southeast Missouri Medical Center Inc. and the Jackson Area Baseball Association.
Nine Oaks contains Whitey Herzog Stadium, a commercially zoned baseball park. With the zoning changes, the bulk of the neighborhood, from Aberdeen Circle to Hubble Creek, will also be zoned for commercial use.
The board also approved a reduced buffer zone between commercial and residential lots compared to previous requirements. To approve the field's original planning request, the city required that owners maintain a 120-foot buffer of residentially zoned land where it bordered existing residential lots. The new buffer minimum was set at 60 feet to match the recommendation of the planning and zoning commission, exceeding the landowners request of 25 feet.
Alderman Mark Dambach of Ward 3 voted against the change. In past board discussions, Dambach has said he objected to changing the zoning, citing concerns such as the baseball field selling the property and a commercial development being created that would be disagreeable to neighborhood residents.
July 4 preparations
The board voted for the city to match donations raised for the Jackson's Independence Day fireworks display, not to exceed $5,000. Alderman Larry Cunningham, chairman of the Independence Day Celebration Committee, said he expects the total funds for the display to reach at least $10,000.
Also in preparation for July 4 activities, the city passed an ordinance to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at city-sanctioned events. Jackson Elks Lodge 2652 will sponsor a beer garden in the city park as part of the day's festivities in an area restricted to adults ages 21 and older.
Mayor Barbara Lohr was on vacation, and Alderman Joe Bob Baker officiated in her place as mayor pro tem.
101 Court St., Jackson, MO