Council action creates Putnam County Park Board

Thursday, July 22, 2021

With an eye toward managing People Pathways and getting state funding for the county, the Putnam County Council formally created a county park board on Tuesday evening.

A matter of discussion in recent months, the creation of the Putnam County Park Board involved a number of factors, but Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Eric Freeman cited two in particular.

“Topping the list of what made me pursue this is People Pathways is in the process of being given over to the county,” Freeman said. “It strikes me as it would be a lot better for the Commissioners to have a citizen park board that manages it.

“The second is that Putnam County is not eligible right now for grants from the DNR because it doesn’t have a park board with a five-year master plan,” he added.

While management of the 18 miles of People Pathways in Putnam County was formerly up to the People Pathways board, in January, the county took over ownership, while the CVB took over management.

While going through this process, though, organizers learned of the need for a county park board to qualify for DNR funding, which pushed the issue closer to adoption.

Freeman also emphasized to the council that, while this does technically create a new county board and department, it shouldn’t mean any new expenses for the county, with the CVB, Friends of the Park and People Pathways all providing an existing support structure.

“This is about a 24-person team within those organizations that know those pathways,” Freeman said.

For the council, the discussion leading up to the vote had little to do with whether the county needs a park board, but rather what it would mean financially.

Council President Dave Fuhrman questioned why the Council — the county’s fiscal body — rather than the Commissioners — the county’s executive and legislative body — was tasked with creating it if there are no fiscal questions involved.

No one offered a satisfactory answer, other than the fact that state law, which often isn’t exactly straightforward, requires a county council to create such a board.

“I think we’re missing opportunities in terms of money, so I make the motion,” Councilman Phil Gick said.

Gick was joined in a 6-0 vote by fellow members Stephanie Campbell, Jay Alcorn, Keith Berry, Larry Parker and Danny Wallace.

As president, Fuhrman did not vote, as is normally his custom.

The council also named the first two members of the board, appointing Roachdale Town Council President Holly Cook to a term expiring in January 2026 and People Pathways Board President Allison Leer to a term expiring in January 2024.

Three more appointments still need to be made, one by the Putnam County Commissioners and two by Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley.

In other business, the Council approved the continuation of two tax abatements for industries in the county.

Spear Corp. in the Roachdale area has two ongoing abatements, both for real estate, from 2014 and 2016.

Meanwhile Scorpion Protective Coatings, Cloverdale, has two abatements dating to 2014, one for real property and one for personal property (equipment).

The number of requests is down from last year, as Buzzi Unicem’s abatement expired and North American Limestone Co./Midwest Calcium Carbonates did not request a continuation.

Additionally, POET Biorefining also did not request a renewal after the Council denied its request last year. The denial came on the heels of POET’s late 2019 announcement that it would idle operations at its Cloverdale facility.

Clary noted the job numbers at both facilities, with Spear four behind its creation numbers, while Scorpion is eight behind.

Fuhrman noted the Scorpion job creation numbers in particular, noting that the company has not met its numbers for the duration of the abatement.

“They would love to get to their numbers, but they just can’t find qualified people,” Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Kristin Clary said.

Spear’s request passed by a 6-0 vote, while Scorpion passed 6-1, with Fuhrman dissenting.

“Nothing against Scorpion, but they’ve never made their numbers, ever,” he said.

Asked by the Council, Clary said she did not know of any new industry coming to the county, but she knew of one company looking to expand, which would likely mean an application for abatement.

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  • Congratulations to the council for approving continuation of the two tax abatement requests. It is important for us to support our locally owned businesses. Spear Corporation is a nationally recognized business that is a leader in their field of expertise.

    -- Posted by rawinger on Fri, Jul 23, 2021, at 5:35 AM
  • Council President Fuhrman "did not vote, as is normally his custom," except when he wants to vote against a local industry it would appear. They cannot find qualified people, as most businesses are finding out now, but would like to get their numbers up. I would like to know how much their total payrolls are compared to their projections at the time of their application for abatement. They may not have their 8 employees, but are they paying overtime and meeting or exceeding their projected payroll dollar amount?

    -- Posted by gustave&zelma on Fri, Jul 23, 2021, at 10:53 AM
  • So now the table is set for the county taxpayers to soon foot the bill and spend new monies on the pathways meanwhile the county commissioners give away money for a film. All the while our county roads continue to deteriorate and become overgrown and county officials whine about not having enough money for repairs and projects. Complete incompetence and bureaucrats are totally in control. All so we can get one time grant money which will probably be tied

    to ‘matching funds’ and then will totally be up to the county to fund for the future.

    -- Posted by Avenger1234 on Fri, Jul 23, 2021, at 6:26 PM
  • *

    Tell me you're a neoliberal without saying you're a neoliberal.

    -- Posted by Bunny1E on Sat, Jul 24, 2021, at 9:42 AM
  • Much of the pathway has deteriorated. It reminds one of walking through an overgrown thicket with little or no view of anything beyond the scrub. It's a place to walk, for sure, but mostly unattractive and needs help and, of course, money.

    -- Posted by Prince of Stardust Hills on Tue, Jul 27, 2021, at 7:50 AM
  • *

    Surprisingly, I am good with it, mostly. (Local government is the least intrusive and the most representative.)

    While I am not a fan of grants by the government, I do believe that local taxes can/should be used to create/support parks, in conjunction with local organizations and volunteers, to maintain those parks.

    This is an old idea that dates to village greens on British estates.

    I believe the reason for the council having to create the board is the fact that they are a representative body.

    Not all counties have commissioners that are elected. All counties have county councils that are.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Tue, Jul 27, 2021, at 7:03 PM
  • I agree with DPR. However, the rural paths seem a waste of money. Used to little to justify the monies spent.

    -- Posted by Prince of Stardust Hills on Wed, Jul 28, 2021, at 5:03 PM
  • But we can feel good about it and that matters

    -- Posted by beg on Thu, Jul 29, 2021, at 9:22 AM
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