"This was a homegrown project," said Steve Walensky, public works director. "Kenny Schieler (parks maintenance foreman) and some temporary help we had did all of framing. Jim Steward (public works maintenance) engineered the project, and Mike Ratcliffe, (public works heavy equipment operator) who is our best welder, did all the welding."
The new dugout structures were created using pipe casing that was removed from the well on Highway 248 during a repair project last year. Staff members also reused the fencing that encased the old dugouts. The existing benches were refurbished.
The replacement of the last two wooden dugouts in the park created a uniform appearance throughout the park, said Walensky. The structures will also offer safer, more durable facilities for future activities.
"This was a very cost effective way to completely restore two dugouts," said Walensky. "It was also a good collaboration of our team. They used each other's skill sets to accomplish this in a cost effective way."
"The volleyball court was also created using poles from the well casing on Highway 248," said Walensky. "The sand was donated by Barry County Ready-Mix.
"After the courts were completed, Corky Stehlik, (Barry County Ready-Mix owner) called me one day and said I needed to see what was going on at the park," continued Walensky. "Those courts have been getting a lot of play, and Corky's donation made that possible."
Other improvements made at the city park include: the installation of more metal tables; and refurbishing the practice board at the tennis courts.
Public works staff members have also completed several improvement projects at Cassville's south park, where the Cassville Aquatic Center is located.
New parking areas have been created on the south end of the park for the soccer fields. The parking areas were created using creek gravel. Barry Electric Cooperative donated cabling, which was installed along the perimeter of the soccer fields.
"This has been a community effort," said Walensky.
Schieler has additional park improvement ideas in the works for this year. Those improvements will be announced at a later date, said Walensky.
"Kenny's doing all this on a shoestring budget," continued Walensky. "He works to maximize the money and make improvements that will bring back pride in the parks and make the parks more resident friendly."
The city staff's commitment to work to improve park facilities in cost efficient ways has inspired other local groups to utilize the recreational areas more often. For instance, the Cassville YMCA is considering offering a volleyball league at the new sand and grass courts later this year.
"Our master idea was to improve the parks and make sure they are used," said Walensky, "but that is not as important as inspiring people to take better care of the facilities. We really wanted to change the attitude. The team really bought into working toward that, and I appreciate everything they have done to make it happen."