How to improve the West Side city park and clarification of details regarding the newly formed parking enforcement officer were the main topics of discussion at the March 3 meeting of the Ripley City Council.

Council members reviewed the report from the March 2 meeting of the Parks Commission regarding areas that need addressed.

“The main issue seems to be drainage,” Mayor Carolyn Rader explained. “It is a marsh over there sometimes.”

Thrasher Engineering inspected the field, used for baseball, and estimated the cost for six inlets to be $94,000. Putting in fewer inlets would cost less but would not completely address the issue.

“Of course, we’ll do more research and cost analysis,” Rader said. “But if we’re going to fix this issue permanently, we need to do it right.”

Additional requests made to the Parks Commission by both the baseball and soccer leagues were discussed as well. These included replacing the current wooden concession stand with a two-story concrete structure that could also be used for announcing, and improving lights at the small baseball field.

When asked if the current concession stand could have a second story added, Rader said she understood that it could not sustain the additional weight.

Council members, Rick Buckley, John McGinley, Carolyn Waybright, Bryan Thompson, Danny Martin, and City Recorder David Casto addressed the need to add State Code 8-14-5A to the municipal code regarding the parking enforcement officer. A first reading of the change to the ordinance was approved. Two more readings must occur before adoption.

“I don’t think I’ve heard more comments or been approached more about any issue for quite some time,” Raider said. “People really seem surprised that they have to pay the meter.”

Chief of Police Brad Anderson explained that the city has always issued tickets for overtime parking but hasn’t been consistent due to lack of officers.

“The parking enforcement officer is doing a great job,” Anderson said. “And she’s willing to work with people. When the new app comes into play, she’ll be helping explain that process too.”

The code, in part, states “a municipality….may employ parking enforcement officers whose sole duties are to patrol and enforce municipal parking ordinance.” In addition, the officer “shall be in uniform [and] display a badge or other sign of authority.”

In other business:

• It was noted that the dam repair project is progressing

• City water loss due to leaks was 2.7 percent

• Plans are progressing for the West Virginia Chocolate Festival on April 4

• Little League opening game will be March 21

• Epworth and Calvary United Methodist Church youth groups want to do a joint project for the city

• The deadline for city police applications has been extended until March 14.

At the close of the meeting, council began discussion on the FY 2020-21 city budget.

The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. on March 17 at the Municipal Building.

Council met at a special meeting on Feb. 25 to approve a second reading of consideration for approval of an ordinance authorizing the leasing of certain real property located at Academy Drive from the Ripley Building Commission. A third reading will occur before adoption.