A proposal to build a park for older residents on a former downtown parking lot got a new push in January after it was put on hold for a few weeks.

A proposal to build a park for older residents on a former downtown parking lot got a new push in January after it was put on hold for a few weeks.
Carthage City Council Member Jim Swatsenbarg and his wife, Sam Swatsenbarg, made a presentation asking the Council's Public Services Committee to commit $100,000 in city cash and labor to construction of a park geared toward older residents in the former Big Smith parking lot at the corner of Sixth and Howard streets.
The committee asked for more information before giving its blessing to committing city money to the project, however, it gave Swatsenbarg the okay to apply for funding from the new McCune-Brooks Hospital Trust for the park.
The full council gave its approval at its regular Jan. 24 meeting.

Questions and answers
The Public Services Committee meets again at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Carthage Parks Office next door to Carl Lewton Baseball stadium in Municipal Park, which will be Swatsenbarg's next opportunity to convince the committee to commit the city's money to the project.
Committee members expressed three main concerns about the project: Will enough people use the park; should the park include more items for younger people and how much will the park cost to maintain after it is built.
Council Member Kelly Hartley asked how many older people live in the neighborhood and whether older residents from other parts of the city would come use it.
Swatsenbarg said he had spoken with some of the senior housing locations in the south part of Carthage near the roundabout, where many of them are located. Some said they'd make it an outing for residents, bringing them to the park, then going to the Square for lunch or dinner.
He also said people at the Carthage Over-60 Center and managers at the Drake Hotel have said they're very interested in seeing the park built.
As for whether the park should include items for younger people, Swatsenbarg said some of the things planned for the park can be used by people of all ages.
Swatsenbarg said he hoped to have some of the answers the committee was seeking at their next meeting.

On hold
The park was the topic of two public meetings in July when architects from Play By Design, a parks design firm from Ithaca, N.Y, came to Carthage to work on the project.
The Carthage City Council earmarked $2,500 to pay for a proposed design.
Drawings from those meetings included green spaces and shaded areas for relaxation, rides and playground equipment that can be used by people in wheelchairs as well as tables for games like chess, Scrabble and others, and courts for games such as bocci ball and pickle ball.
Swatsenbarg said the city was pushing forward with the planning when Jasper County officials said they may have a use for the lot and asked the city to hold off doing anything with it.
Swatsenbarg said the county told the city in December it was not interested in the lot, clearing the way for him to approach the committee.

A bigger plan
Swatsenbarg told the committee he hoped to raise $300,000 to build the park.
He asked the committee to commit the city funds pending his ability to raise the rest of the money.
“This is so I can go out now and do fundraising,” Swatsenbarg said. “I'm going to approach the new hospital trust, the Steadly Trust, Boylan Foundation and I have a private donor, a large donor, who is interested in the project, and several small donors already.”
Swatsenbarg said after construction, the park would become part of the city's park system, meaning maintenance would be up to the city.
He said the park would be part of a larger plan by the Vision Carthage Committee to beautify the area between the Carthage Square to the north and the Carthage Historic Homes District along Grand and Main to the south.
The Vision Carthage Committee held workdays in September and October 2016, to help residents in the 600 and 700 blocks of Grant Street beautify their homes and make repairs.
He said Leggett & Platt, which owns the former Big Smith manufacturing buildings in the area of Sixth and Howard streets, has given the committee permission to paint murals and historic artwork pertaining to Carthage's history on the buildings and windows of those buildings.
“The city has a really nice downtown Square, we have nice Victorian Homes, but going between the two is just ugly,” Swatsenbarg said. “What we are proposing is we do something to increase the activity and make it more presentable to our visitors and more useful to our citizens.
“At the same time, seniors are the fastest growing segment of our population but activities specifically designed for them are under-represented in our park system, there's very little for them to do as opposed to skate parks, swimming pools, baseball diamonds.”

Editor's Note: This story was changed on Monday to correct the date of the next Public Services Committee meeting. That date is Thursday, Feb. 16.