I attended an epic Union Park Advisory Board meeting last week.
Not having a meeting in July because some members were on vacation and they knew a quorum was unlikely, the board made up for it with the August meeting. They had a busy agenda, with the meeting taking two hours from start to finish.
And for a change, he had a good participation of the members of the board of directors. The park board often struggled to get the required seven members on board, but this time nine of the 12 board members showed up.
Another big change has been the presence of municipal officials from outside the parks department. Along with Alderman Dennis Soetebier, Alderman Liaison Officers with Park Council, Mayor Bob Schmuke and City Administrator Jonathan Zimmermann were also present.
It was nice to see Schmuke, who was appointed mayor in June, attend more meetings than his predecessor. Along with the park board of directors, he attended the August meeting of the Union Development Corp. Instead of hearing the councils speculating on whether the aldermen would agree with their plans, they can get a good idea of what the city thinks from the mayor.
I wouldn’t criticize anyone for limiting the events they’ve been attending for the past year and a half. Nonetheless, with Schmuke retired from his day job, it’s good for Union to have a mayor visible at city events.
I was surprised to see Schmuke install the inflatable screen in a recent movie in City Park, but it turned out to be helping his son’s business.
On Thursday, there were a few instances where Schmuke responded to questions from the park council about how aldermen will respond to park council recommendations. Although he only votes to break a tie (which doesn’t happen much to Union), Schmuke brings 20 years of expertise in aldermen thinking.
He told the park council about his enthusiasm for the model trains the St. Louis Live Steamers are considering bringing to Union and that he doesn’t think the aldermen council will charge for the use of the city’s land.
As a long-time board member of the Union Area Chamber of Commerce, Schmuke was also able to provide insight into what the chamber asks food vendors to sell at its events. The city plans to lower the prices it charges to outside sellers.
But the city officials present were not the only ones added to the meeting. Several members of the Steamers were there, bringing photos and drawings of their planned tracks.
A few other people from the community were also present to brief the park council on the programs they are working on. I will keep you posted in the coming weeks.
Even though the meeting lasted almost two hours, it was a good reminder that it is good for people to participate in their local government.
At the end of the meeting, Zimmermann joked that the last council meeting took only three minutes. While a two hour meeting per week (especially after a long day) wouldn’t be ideal, I think I would make time for a three minute meeting.
I love it when the director of parks, Chad Pohlmann, gives details about the parks department programs. It’s worth a story more often than not, and while it’s not worth a story, at least I’ve heard enough about it to know it’s not.
Then, the members of the board of directors of the park give their opinion and reach a consensus on what they want to recommend or not to recommend to the aldermen.
That kind of deliberation is the raison d’être of government, and it helps me better understand what’s going on so that I can point it out to you.