The Sedalia Park Board heard an update on the Heckart Community Center from Parks & Rec Executive Director Amy Epple on Thursday during their monthly meeting.

Items mentioned include:

*A $42,917 bill for electrical work was paid in full after Epple noticed that an invoice had never been submitted for some reason when looking at budget line items. “It was not an employee that we've never had, so you'd think they'd call after a while ... but we got it paid, we're all good,” Epple said. She added that the Park Board sees every bill that goes through Parks & Rec in the interest of transparency.

*With the Heckart Center passing the two-year mark, lots of original warranties are running out, and repairs will have to be paid for through the budget.

*Remodeling of the front desk area is ongoing, with Jake's Cabinetry doing the work. “It's to give us more room, more storage, and employees will see eye-to-eye with customers,” Epple said, adding that Jake did all the cabinetry for the Heckart.

*Landscaping work is also ongoing, and Epple credited Shawna Lynn and her crew with making it all happen with their tireless efforts day after day during the spring season. “They work so hard, I can't say that enough,” Epple said. “They really take a lot of pride in what they do. And you can see it just by driving through the parks.”

*More parking at the Heckart is now available after Public Works created it on the old practice field.

Epple is working on the RFQs for the proposed bowling alley and aquatic center to be located on East Broadway. “The real big thing is that bowling alley's really helping us offset the expenses of the aquatic facility. The bowling alley can make money. The pool never makes money. Aquatics don't make money.” Epple said, adding that “besides Worlds of Fun, there are maybe four private pools in Missouri, and it costs 30 dollars plus to get in. So the money we generate from the bowling alley (Memory Lanes) will help us to afford to build the aquatic facility.”

Parks & Rec's budget will be the same with the new aquatic facility, as far as maintaining and running it day to day, she noted.

Revenue from Memory Lanes will help pay the loan for the aquatic facility, “so that we don't have to raise taxes or ask for more money from the taxpayers. So that was a generous gift from Sue Heckart, and her and I have been working on it,” Epple told KSIS.

Staffing of the alley will be Parks & Rec employees. However, concessions will be likely be contracted out to people already in the business of selling food & drink, Epple noted. “Finding the right people” is critical, she said, adding that most Parks & Rec employees are not professional concessionaires.

Under Committee reports, the new train engine has arrived at Liberty Park. The cars are being painted, and the “amusement ride” will be inspected next week by the state. A healthy rock bed has been built up around the track in anticipation of the 2024 season. “I can't wait to reveal it,” Epple said of the new train with a new color scheme. “We're excited to get the train back up & running, it's been a long process, and a bit of a headache here and there, but that's part of the job.”

As reported by KSIS in November, the Liberty Flyer train will have a totally new look in 2024, sporting the yellow, gray and black colors of Union Pacific.

“It's a completely brand new train,” Epple said, adding that the old engine (Missouri Pacific) did not pass inspection and was retired and will be on display at Liberty Park.

Epple hinted at a possible “Polar Express” ride this coming winter.

Sandblasting on the fountain at Convention Hall will take place, possibly next week, before it is ready for service this coming summer season.

A rusty railing on the bridge at Centennial Park may cost between $8,000 and $10,000 to repair, Epple said, adding that it was not in the current budget, nut it is a safety issue, so a few items that are not urgent may be moved around to accommodate the cost of the ironwork at the park. “I'm hoping the bids come in less that what our estimates did,” she said.

A soft spot on the floor at Liberty Park Stadium was addressed. “Smith-Cotton let us know last night. They notified us right away, so we had maintenance go check it out this morning, and there was a piece that was rotting, so that was fixed,” Epple said, adding that Aug. 6 is the start date for the grant work planned for the historic baseball stadium.

Epple remarked that she is excited for Smith-Cotton's new sports complex that is currently under construction at 2010 Tiger Pride Blvd. She added that Sedalia School District 200 have a great relationship, comparing it to being siblings.

“And there's opportunities for us to work together, especially with the stadium, and a good chance for them to be able to host districts and sectionals … those are things that we look at, long term, about how can work together and make things better for Sedalia and bring that revenue in. So there's some good things head, and I'm excited, and glad to be able to support them,” Epple stated.

And end of fiscal year report on March 31 revealed that Sedalia Parks & Rec is in the black by $96,533.10. “It's an 'unaudited' report,” Epple noted. “I just received that today from (City Finance Director) Jessica Pyle, so we're in the positive $96,533.10.

Epple noted that when she first started as director, about $200,000 would be placed into reserves, but with the Heckart Center and other big projects under way, that figure has now been reduced to around $75,000.

Park Board will be presented with designs for new playground equipment at Liberty Park at their next meeting. “It's going to be a project where we do half of it this year, so we'll by the equipment this year and it will be installed next fiscal year. But it will be a destination playground, so it will be our biggest playground that we have in the parks department.

Great things are also in store for Katy Park, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall.

Liberty Pool is scheduled to open Memorial Day Weekend, May 25th at noon. “We will work really hard to make sure no one's missing out on pool time with Centennial Pool being closed,” Epple said, adding that pool hours have been adjusted at the Heckart accordingly.

A collection of artistic hearts and clowns (and other subjects) is now on display in the hallway at the Heckart. The artwork was produced by students in Ms. Hagen's class at Sedalia Middle School.

Board members Megan Simon and Kristy Woolery were absent from Thursday's meeting. The board meets again in May on the second Thursday of the month. The public is invited to attend.

Heckart Center artwork

Gallery Credit: Randy Kirby

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