By: Amy Wendt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The Archbold Village Council and the Archbold Park Board convened for their first-ever annual joint meeting on Monday, January 8, 2024, at 5:30 p.m.
The meeting, held at the Scout Cabin in Ruihley Park, marked the beginning of a tradition scheduled to take place every January in the future between the two groups.
The meeting was attended by members of both the Archbold Village Council and the Park Board with Councilors Karla Ball, Vaughn Bentz, Gary Dominique, Aaron Babcock, Kevin Eicher, and Chad Kern present on behalf of Council. Kern also serves as Council Liaison to the Park Board.
Representing the park board were members Jen Hurst, Andrea Thiel, and Tom Short. Jen Kidder, Director of Parks & Recreation was on hand and Mayor Brad Grime, Village Administrator Donna Dettling, and Assistant Village Administrator Aaron Alt of the village’s admin team were also present at the meeting.
The evening saw Kidder, presenting and reviewing with council, the Park Fund 2024 Budget, the Park Fund Expense Report as of December 31, 2023, a draft version of the Park Board’s 2024 Special Events list, and 2024 capital items.
Kidder addressed trends in pool attendance and highlighted the community’s generosity, with churches and businesses stepping in to cover pool receipts last summer.
Also noted was the increased collaboration between the Park Board, Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce, Black Swamp Arts Council, Sauder Village, and other community event organizers.
The group engaged in conversation regarding the draft 2024 Special Events list, with the board seeking a decision from council regarding downtown concerts.
The board is planning for the Backyard Bash on June 21 and the Route 66 Bash on August 9 or 10 and contemplating a second State Route 66 Road closure on a Saturday.
Council advised it will continue to honor the one-time summer closure of State Route 66 which was authorized in Resolution 2022-24. A standard road closure time of 12:30 p.m. was also discussed.
A splash pad grand opening event, with the date yet to be determined, is in the works. Those who contributed to the project will receive personal invitations to the event once plans have been finalized.
Other events noted in the draft 2024 Special Events list include The Easter Eggstravaganza to be held on March 30, The Bluestreak Classic 8u Baseball Tournament to be held May 18 & 19, the Backyard Bash Downtown Concert on June 21, the Backyard Bash 8u-14u Baseball Tournament on June 14-16, the Archbold All-Star Tournament on July 12-14, a Back 2 School Party-in August, the Rt. 66 Bash in August, a Chili Cook-off in September, the Pumpkin Spooktacular on October 20, the Festival of Lights park setup and volunteer breakfast on November 9, and the Santa Please Stop Here event on December 15.
Since the schedule is in its draft form event details are subject to change. It was further noted that the board opted not to schedule a go-cart race for 2024 due to low attendance at the Woodland Park event last year.
Instead, the group is directing its efforts towards enriching activities leading up to the yearly Parade of Lights.
According to the draft 2024 Special Events list, Winterfest is slated for the day after Thanksgiving on Friday, November 29.
It is anticipated to possibly include a vendor fair, ice skating, a bonfire, Santa visits, kids’ activities, and ice sculpting, and will conclude with the Archbold tradition – the Parade of Lights in the evening.
Discussion on the Board’s Capital Budget items covered a list of anticipated park improvements. Among them were plans for a new leaf collection system for Ruihley Park, the replacement of football helmets, the conversion of tennis courts at Ruihley Park into pickleball courts, improvements to playground surfacing, upgrades to diving boards at the pool, two new ball diamonds at Memorial Park, the purchase of a golf cart to facilitate transportation for elderly and persons with disability from parking lots to game fields, and the replacement of doors to the pool pump room and restroom doors at the ball diamonds in Memorial Park.
Additionally, there was mention of the purchase of a robot painter, however, grant funds are currently being sought to cover that expense.
With no further discussion, the joint meeting concluded at 7:10 p.m.