In a five to one vote the Colonial Beach Town Council voted to approve the purchase of new playground equipment to be put in at Eleanor Park. Councilman Pat Ey voted against the resolution.
The approval of resolution 29-20 “Intent to Develop Castlewood and Eleanor Park sites” will also lead to the removal of the playground at Castlewood Park. Council members spoke of concerns over safety issues at the July work session and regular session.
With vehicles and boat trailers being parked adjacent to the park, Vice Mayor Robin Schick discussed the need to move the park. Worries over children running through the parking lot unseen by the numerous vehicles using the area being hit drew concern.
Castlewood has held a playground for decades but prior to the rebuilding of the boat ramp last year the use of the parking in the area had fallen off. Now with a new boat ramp and an influx of visitors to the town the new playground will be placed in the one quadrant of Eleanor Park with the most shade.
While there may be a couple more spaces added at the area for vehicles, removal of the playground does not add much more space. Due to the wellhead located on the property there is a limited area where cars and trucks maybe parked.
The entire triangle area around Castlewood and Lunsford Point has been hopping on any days that there are not impending storms. Parking in the area is $20 for the day for cars and $30 for the day for a vehicle with a boat trailer.
Fourth of July weekend saw the area overflowing with vehicles, people on the beach, and boats. While all parks in Colonial Beach are still closed due to the COVID-19 threat this will not last much longer. The town is working on hiring park attendants to clean and sanitize the equipment allowing for children to use the playgrounds.
This comes at the close of summer for children as schools reopen on August 10 albeit in a new fashion due to the virus.
New playground equipment is currently on sale according to Schick as manufacturers have been affected by the shutdown as well. The new playground will cost $55,000 including setup and delivery.
What is not included are fences and benches however Colonial Beach Greenspace’s head, Steve Kennedy said that the group already had three benches funded and would be raising funds for the rest.
The move to Eleanor Park is not without controversy, though. In fact Mayor Eddie Blunt initially blocked the resolution from being added to the agenda according to one source. Prior to the meeting it was turned down.
At the start Schick made a motion to add it to the agenda and Blunt asked, “Did this have a chance to be pre-read or anything?” about the resolution.
Schick responded that it had been sent to council and was followup from discussion at the work session. Schick made the point that it was sent that day along with the school’s presentation which was added to the agenda.
Blunt asked if it would require a public hearing and the town’s attorney Jim Cromwell confirmed that would not be needed.
During the meeting Town Manager Quinn Robertson brought up the possibility of the town turning Eleanor Park into a recreational vehicle campground as sales of those vehicles have gone up.
Eleanor Park formerly held mobile homes. Residents of the park were forced out by a previous town council.
It was also a campground prior to that and is still listed on many sites as such. Even with the playground being built there it could still be used as an RV park in the remaining area.
Hazard pay & CARES act funding
A hazardous pay increase was approved for all town employees who work in areas were they could face hazards. Such employees will be determined by the Town Manager. A $2 per hour hazard increase would be added during times set forth by the council and the Town Manager including time during COVID-19.
This led to discussion of the CARES act funding that Westmoreland County received. The town is supposed to receive a little over $300,000 of the funding from the monies. Currently, the county has refused to give the town the funds. Board of Supervisor member Tim Trivett who represents Colonial Beach says he is baffled why the county refuses to give the town its funding.
County supervisors had already stated that they would only give the town funding after they had spent the funds. They also said they were taking a significant portion, over $100,000 of it, for the town’s part of county needs. Council members objected as the town was not included in discussion of this.
Colonial Beach residents pay county taxes, other than the school portion, as well as town taxes. The town also pays separately for dispatch services on top of that. Colonial Beach maintains its own school system, police force, and other services as well.
An email to County Administrator Norm Risavi had not been returned by press time.