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An echo chamber is a comfy thing. Much like a monastery. When the political winds are screeching and social media feels like a stroll through a minefield laid in a lava flow, there's a self-preserving voice in all of us that beckons us to retreat to safety. You ask yourself, "Why am I putting myself through this, when I could be curled up in a snug space sipping the warm drink of friends who think like me?" Like a monk on a mountaintop of peace, all I have to do is close my windows to the rioting rabble and pretend like they don't exist.
New playground equipment, a new Zamboni and a successful run of movies and music events in the park were the highlights of the 2016 annual Parks and Rec report. The department makes up about 11 percent, or $1.3 million of the city's overall general fund, but many of the amenities managed by the department come from donations from residents and businesses. Randy Distad, Parks and Rec director, calls the cooperation a win-win situation. "We rely very heavily on volunteers," he said.
The city is moving forward with a plan to remove all poor-quality ash trees within its right-of-ways to try to stave off an infestation of the emerald ash borer. There are 3,374 ash trees growing in the city-owned boulevards, according to a tree survey done last summer by Jennifer Dullum, the city's natural resource specialist. Of those, 319 trees appear to be in poor health.
With spring rains and runoff, erosion once again will become the enemy of the Vermillion River that flows through Farmington. Plans set in motion last summer by the city and the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization to combat erosion will pick up again this summer, causing a 230-foot-long portion of the trail north of the Schmitz-Maki Arena to be closed to the public during July and August.
The city has approved the purchase and installation of new playground equipment and a shelter for Prairieview Park. The park, located between Hickory and 220th streets, east of Highway 3, has 15-year-old equipment, which the city was planning to remove and replace. However, considering the dwindling Park Improvement Fund balance, the city has decided to leave the existing equipment and just add to it, saving themselves about $20,000, said Randy Distad, parks and recreation director.
Two cleanup days are scheduled for April, one for junk and the other for parks. Curbside Cleanup Days start April 22 and Pond and Park Cleanup Day is April 29. Unwanted junk Curbside Cleanup gives Farmington residents an opportunity to dispose of bulky items not routinely collected. It doesn't cost any extra, because it's included in the city's quarterly garbage fee.
Farmington's annual Easter event, April 8, is going retro. The event, which has been an Easter Carnival since about 2008, is going back to its roots this year with a good old fashioned Easter egg hunt. The new organizer, Amanda Pellicci Stender, 28, explained the change.
The city has set the end of April as its goal to fill the council seat left empty by Tim Pitcher's sudden resignation. The Farmington City Council voted unanimously Monday, March 20, to accept Pitcher's resignation, declare a vacancy on the council and greenlight the staff to begin the application process. Applicants must be a resident of Farmington, 21 years of age or older, and an United States citizen.
When the Springer family bought their house on Easton Avenue 12 years ago, they were thrilled to have it back up to Lake Julia park. Since then, they've come to see their proximity to the park as both a blessing and a curse. Without lights, the park tends to draw young teens who climb up on the shelter, throw the porta-potty into the lake and generally annoy the neighbors. "Our biggest complaints were about this time of year, when school gets out," Cathy Springer said. She frequently called the police, asking them to send more patrols.
A decision to hire Boeckman Middle School Principal Dan Miller for a newly created buildings and grounds director position stalled when two Farmington School Board members questioned his hands-on experience. "I thought we would bring someone in with the grounds crew experience," board member Melissa Saucer said during the March 13 school board meeting. Member Steve Cordes also had doubts. "I was under the understanding that the position was going to be around a specific niche for grounds and maintenance with a background in that," he said.