Let me start my letter by saying, I love Greenville. I take pride in Fort Green Ville, Anthony Wayne, The Treaty of Greenville, Greenville City Park, Annie Oakley, Lowell Thomas, The Great Dark County Fair, The Garst Museum, The Maid Rite and many other Greenville icons. We have plenty of history to be proud of. I was born, raised and graduated in the class of 1975 in Greenville. I left town when I was 18 to join the Army. I met my wife and got married in Greenville. Both of our families are from Greenville. Because of the economy we moved to California in 1982 and lived there for 20 years before moving to the Columbus area to be closer to family.
When someone in California would ask me where I’m from, I would say “I’m a misplaced Ohioan living in California; but my heart and home is Greenville, Ohio.” I had clients in California who knew about Greenville. One was a manager with Fram who went to Greenville several times a year. The other was a manager who worked for Whirlpool Corp. They had both visited our park and said how nice it was. One manager was taken to the Maid Rite for lunch and really enjoyed it.
The Greenville City Park is a huge asset for our little town. So here is my concern: Our park is starting to deteriorate little by little. We have held a family reunion in the park for 5 years. Each year we select a date for the picnic, drive to town weeks before the event, go to the city building, pay the fee and reserve a shelter. It was easy to do as there were lots of nice people in the Parks Dept. Office to help with the reservation. A couple of years ago we came to town at about 2 pm to find the Park Dept. door locked and a sign on the door that read “New office hours, Mon thru Friday 11am to 1 pm.” We were puzzled but came back another day during the stated hours. I was told the hour change was because of cut backs to the park budget. All the office people were gone and most of the park crew was laid off. The park relied on volunteer help to maintain the park. This year when we went to the city building, I was pleasantly surprised to see many people again working in the office only to be told a new dept. now used the space and the parks office had been moved to a garage next to the football field.
While driving through the park on the way to the football field I noticed the island in the middle of the big lagoon where the big Willow trees and windmill used to be. The beautiful trees and windmill are gone, small trees have been planted but the island is not maintained and is overgrown with weeds. It’s now an eyesore. When we got to the garage we found a man sitting in a small office. He was on the phone explaining to a lady the new pay structure for a season swimming pass. She was not happy.
The way he explained it was she would pay over $350 for three kids to have season passes. He told her the City Council had advised the Parks Dept. they would not spend another dime on the pool. The fees had to be raised to cover the operating costs of the pool or it would be shut down. I see in the local paper where the daily entry fee to the pool is $5 per person or $2 with a season pass. How is a low to middle income family expected to pay that kind of money to enjoy our swimming pool? A local swimming pool is not intended to be a self supporting or money making venture. It is provided to the citizens of the city using tax payer money for the benefit of the community. After I reserved and paid the $30.00 fee for the shelter the man told me where the new trash dumpsters were located. I asked him about the trash cans that were in each shelter. He said they took them all out and put a small dumpster in the shelter parking lot by the football field and another one next to one of the other shelters. There are no more trash cans along the sides of the roads in the park. I have eaten many Maid Rites and Chicken Kitchen dinners in the park by the swinging bridge and tossed my trash in the trash cans along the side of the road. I wonder how many other families eat lunch or have picnics in the park and must find other ways of disposing their trash?
Here is my point. I know money is tight. I know the city is under pressure from the citizens to provide services without raising taxes. Maybe it is time to look at creative ways to keep the pool and park places people can enjoy and be proud of. Has anyone thought of looking into state or federal grants for the park? How about corporate sponsorships? Each shelter could be sponsored by a company for a yearly fee and the money put in the parks budget. How about a large banner saying “Shelter House No. 5 sponsored by Dave Knapp Ford, Because Our Family Lives Here Too” or, Shelter House No. 6 Sponsored by Eikenberry’s, The Only Hometown Grocery In Town” or, trash cans that say “Service Provided By Second National Bank. Don’t just throw your money away, bank it with us” How about leasing the naming rights for the city pool. “The Wal-Mart Community Pool. We Believe In Giving Back To Our Community.”
The restrooms in the park are old, outdated and in need of a revamp. Why not talk to a large company like GTI, or Kroger to help come up with ideas, hold fund raisers or sponsor the building of new rest rooms? It couldn’t hurt to ask.
The little concession stand by the play area has not been open for years. I assume it is also a budget issue. As a kid I would ride my bike to the park, meet friends at the concession stand get some pop and chips and spend many hours hanging out in the park. How about working with the Lions Club, VFW, American Legion, Eagles, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brother Big Sister or any other service organization to fix it up, bring it back to code, lease it to a group on a rotating schedule, let them staff and run it as a money making opportunity for their organization for the summer. What about the swans that used to be in the lagoons? I know they mate for life and we have had several pairs over the years. They added so much grace and beauty to the park and now I notice there are none. Would the Greenville Alumni Assn. hold a fund raiser to purchase a pair of swans? Or the graduating class of 2013 donates a pair of swans as a gift to the park?
We know it’s the little things that matter. As with owning a house, when things break they must be fixed right away so they don’t pile up and devalue the house. If you wait to fix everything at once it becomes too overwhelming and nothing gets done.
The stone entrance to the swinging bridge has light sconces on each pillar. The lights had glass globes on them. They were always being broken by vandals as soon as the city replaced them. I know this is frustrating for the city, but you can’t let the actions of a few thugs ruin things for everyone. The globes need to be replaced. In this day and age there must be a material to make globes for the lights that look nice and can withstand the attempts of a few degenerates to destroy them. This would be a good project for a community service group to work on. Al these thoughts are just ideas but, that’s how things get done. One person has an idea, another improves on it, another adds to it and the next thing you know we have a game plan in the works to bring our park back to what it was when I grew up and many people my age and older still remember. You cannot have a world class park by cutting the resources needed to keep it staffed and maintained. We should treat our city park with the pride and respect it deserves.
Sometimes it takes someone from the outside looking in to see the big picture and offer some ideas. That is what I am trying to do.
As I said, I love Greenville.
Jim Carpenter is a volunteer columnist and currently lives in Dublin, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.