The fate of the caretaker’s house at Nichols Park is still unclear following a discussion at the Tuesday night city council meeting.
Steve Sanford, who has been trying to spearhead a drive to save the vacant structure, said he wants to bring the building back to a livable condition, “because of the history involved.”
A fundraising effort has run into problems because, according to the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group (OMAG) and Henryetta city attorney, he can’t raise money for repairs to city property.caretaker
At the Tuesday meeting he said he wanted to restore the building in three phases and estimated the cost at $19,300 for each.
“That’s well over $50,000 and it would have to go out for bids,” mayor Jennifer Munholland said. She told Sanford state law prohibits the project to be financed in three stages.
Sanford said he is working with a local attorney to have a 501c3 non-profit designation set up to allow donations to be tax deductible.
“We have been hit up by people whose houses we have abated,” she said, comparing the caretaker’s house to others that have been put on the abatement list.
She went on to say staffing a full-time caretaker is not in the budget.
“We need a lot of infrastructure done. We have water lines, sewer lines, everything has needed significant upgrades for years because the money is not there.”
“With the size of the park we need some one or a person and a half to take care of it full-time,” said councilor Michael Dickey. “We have had great caretakers but the last one really did that house in.”
He made the motion to table the discussion Tuesday until a special meeting could be held with the council, OMAG, Sanford and his attorney to discuss the financing. “If we can do it wonderful, if we can’t it sucks and we will make it into a patio.”
No date was set for that special meeting.
Sanford told the council that plans call for Henryetta Scout Pack 118 to spend a day cleaning up the park Sept. 1. He also said the scouts want to plant some 30 pine trees in a nod to a similar project some 70 years ago when scouts planted 500 trees.
In other business, the council approved purchasing two used police cares for $7,500 each. Police chief Steve Norman said the vehicles have 70,000 miles but come equipped with all the lights and sirens.
Those cars are being purchased through a contact with the state.
Council members approved a lease with MC Nutrition Service from Muskogee to take over operations at the senior citizens center. The service will be leasing the kitchen, restrooms, dining area and office. For several years, Project Heart from Shawnee had been leasing the facility.