City seeks public input on Barnett Park

Friday, March 17, 2017

McCOOK, Neb. — City leaders are looking for public input on the future of Barnett Park as they contemplate whether the venue can continue to sustain both a fish and geese population.

City Council is scheduled to receive an update and discuss the park during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting, 6:30 p.m., at the Municipal Center.

“We would like to have input from the public to see what activities are important to them. We are continuing to look at options for the park. It would be great to be able to come to a happy medium where we have good fish habitat and a resident goose population. According to the experts, this may be difficult to achieve,” said city staff in the meeting packet.

The ponds at the park have experienced a number of fish kills in recent years, including a substantial loss of fish last year, which have severely impacted the bass and bluegill populations. City staff contacted officials from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and Nebraska Game and Parks for input and it was determined the cause was likely a lack of oxygen in the water. Subsequent testing showed high levels of nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorous in the water, according to city staff.

“These levels are high enough that the environment in the ponds make it difficult, at best, for fish to survive,” according to the city. NDEQ and Game & Parks officials believe the levels are a direct result of the waste being produced by the goose population.

City staff also indicated the Barnett Park pond fountains were purchased to assist with water quality and circulation.

“Our initial reaction was that if there are very few fish in the ponds, maybe it would be best not to install the fountains this year. After giving it more thought, staff is not opposed to installing the fountains this year for the public to enjoy,” according to the meeting packet.

Game & Parks officials are scheduled to drop 750 trout into the Barnett Park ponds Saturday, pending a water quality test they expect the ponds to pass. In a visit with the Gazette earlier this week, they indicated the spring trout stocking could continue in the future or cease at the direction of city staff.

Also during Monday’s meeting, final approval for a mixed bag of changes to city liquor license fees will be considered. The changes stem from a desire to align city fees with the state, according to city staff.

The proposed occupation tax rates would increase and decrease annual fees for McCook liquor license establishments by as much as $100 annually and impact 22 of McCook’s 26 liquor license holders, according to information from the city.

The changes were unanimously approved on first and second reading without opposition. Retail liquor license holders that will see a $100 annual increase include Heritage Hills Golf, Old Sarge’s, TJ’s Family Fun Center, Fuller’s Restaurant, Club Paradise and The Larson Group LLC.

Liquor license holders looking at a potential $50 increase include Sehnert’s Bakery, Taste of Texas BBQ, El Puerto, The Coppermill, Tequila’s Mexican Grill, Loop Brewing Company, The Cobblestone Hotel and each of the three Casey’s General Store locations.

Liquor license establishments that would see a $100 decrease include The Spirit Shop, The Bottle Shop, Walmart, High Times Liquor Mart and Smoker’s Outlet. Establishments looking at a potential $50 decrease include Schmick’s Market.

Other items:

* City Council is scheduled to discuss the future handling of alley houses within city limits. The discussion stems from a recent nuisance abatement scenario where a new owner is hesitant to invest the required demolish funds into a property, due to concerns he would be unable to build a shed or garage on the property afterward. City staff indicates they have considered multiple solutions but have run into “practical roadblocks as we worked our way through the issue,” leading to Monday’s discussion item.

* City staff is recommending the 2017 armor coating bid go to Topkote Inc. of Yankton, South Dakota, in the amount of $3.667 per gallon. Topkote was the lowest of three bids received, with B & H Paving of Scott City, Kan., and Figgins Construction of Red Cloud, Neb., bidding at $4.85 and $3.94 per gallon, respectively.

* Loop Brewing Company is requesting a special liquor license for a reception/fundraiser at the Armed Forces Reserve Center on June 3, 2017.

* The annexation of property acquired by the city from John and Betty Nothnagel, between West R Street and West 7th Street and north of the Red Willow County Fairgrounds, will be considered on its third and final reading. The city intends to pave the property to connect West 7th and West R Street.

The land was acquired in exchange for the city paving a portion of a driveway west of the former Smokers Outlet, now N-Stant Convenience.

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  • As far as the continued existence of Barnett Park is concerned as being a park with fish lacking chemical's in the water, etc. I would feel the City needs to proceed with eliminating the dump material that currently exists from close to hiway 83 to the new restroom area in the northwest area of the park. This was a dump from the 1970s and throughout the 1980s the City knows for sure. But the regulations on what was dumped there were not to stringent as one that dumped many truck loads of construction, hardware, lawn care produce waste there of vendors I worked for over the years it was open. For what ever reason the park is used this old dump should still be abated as to what whatever is in there is getting into our ground water via runoff from the north. We should at least explore what is there by way of chemically testing as we may find a problem area like we found with diesel in the rail road yard, or chemicals like trichloroethylene around TRW.

    -- Posted by michaelh.1155 on Mon, Mar 20, 2017, at 5:46 PM
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