Even in the midst of a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, Sedalia Parks & Recreation is forging ahead with maintenance work, preparing for the summer of 2020 like any other year.

“We're watching the budget carefully, said Parks & Rec Director Amy Epple. “But when it comes to maintenance, that's where the sales tax covers what we're doing. Right now, we're doing okay, but we won't know until next month where we're at. We are going to ask for one piece of equipment (instead of three), we're trying to watch the budget and be smart with the decisions that we're making.”

Epple noted that 'we always want to be in the green, not the red.”

The department is constantly evaluating special events this summer on a day-by-day basis.

Epple hopes to open Sedalia's public pools June 1, and baseball will start June 22. “Staff has been working on coming up with a plan,” Epple said, adding that she has been in contact with other parks & recreation directors across the country for ideas and advice.

“Safety is our number one concern,” Epple stated.

Bids on the train house at Liberty will go out in June or July, she noted, adding that upgrades will include rest rooms, concessions, and a ticket booth. “We're very excited about this project,” Epple said.

Maintenance is looking for three dry days in a row to lay down turf at the batting cages at Centennial.

Ball fields at Housel are just missing dugouts. But concerns with rainy weather and COVID have prevented that from happening, and it might not occur until the fall, Epple said. The contractor for that project lives in Columbia.

A broken piece of playground equipment at Clover Dell is now fixed. “I had a little battle with the playground company, but they fixed it and we didn't pay a dime for that,” Epple said.

At Hubbard, Epple said she is starting to seek prices on playground equipment. She noted that now is a good time, because many parks around the country are closed and companies are not installing nearly as much equipment at this time. Other departments are getting a really good deal.

A “Springtime, Anytime” mural is now complete and visible on the back side of a tennis practice wall in Liberty. The mural was completed in April by artist Linda Hoover with Glenda Miller.

In a progress report concerning building and grounds, pools are being painted and grass is being mowed in areas that are not saturated with rain water. “All in all, we're in pretty good shape,” commented board member Roy Poynter, adding that a week or two of decent weather would be helpful.

Parks & Rec bought a 72-inch Hustler mower from Sutherland's at a cost of $24,486. “We used to lease them, but we did a spread sheet … and it was really cheaper for us to buy them. We buy them, then trade them in, and we get more money back on them, or we sell them on the City's website. As much as we mow, three years is about the best we can get out of them,” explained Epple.

New mowers that need fixing are taken back to Sutherland's under warranty. Older mowers are fixed at the City garage.

Maintenance employees are working four 10-hour shifts. (Monday through Thursday, or Tuesday through Friday), Epple noted. Purchase of a new truck has been postponed, she added.

Hellas Construction, with an office in Wichita, Kansas, and headquartered in Austin Texas, was the winning bidder to refurbish the tennis courts at Liberty at a cost of $55,100. A total of three bids were received.

Sedalia Mayor John Kehde and City Administrator Kelvin Shaw also attended the monthly meeting held Thursday.

The nine-member board meets again June 4 at 5:30 p.m.