By Lee Weyhrich, For The Tribune
PINSON — With the mayor away on business, Pinson’s City Council had a short agenda, but that doesn’t mean they had a short meeting. Most of the meeting was devoted to a question and answer session with Park Director Mike Sullivan regarding his opinions on park maintenance, as well as upcoming events.
The last weekend of May will be a big one for Bicentennial Park, Sullivan said. Friday, May 27 is movie night in the park. The Minions Movie will begin at dusk that evening.
The next day, Saturday, May 28, marks the day many have been waiting for – the day the splash pad opens for business. The splash pad will officially open that morning at 10 a.m. Throughout the summer, the splash pad will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Maintenance will be done Sunday evening and the pad will be closed on Mondays.
Sullivan was also asked about his opinion on the renewal of a contract.
For the last five months, the Council has contracted with Game Day Sports to improve the standards of the fields at Pinson Youth Sports Complex, but that contract will expire in three weeks.
When the company was first brought to the Council’s attention by councilman Joe Cochrane, the fields were abysmal. The fields had just swapped hands from the all-volunteer Pinson Valley Youth Association into the council’s stewardship, and while everyone agreed the fields needed improvement, no one was sure how to do it.
The Council agreed to hire Game Day on a trial basis for six months.
The original plan was for Game Day to not only prepare, treat and maintain the fields, but also to train city employees. Unfortunately, according to parks director Mike Sullivan, there has not been a lot of time for that training with everything else going on and the current park staff filling so many roles.
Sullivan hopes the contract can be extended and training can commence, so that some of the skills and tricks used by the company can be applied at other City properties. In the meantime Sullivan, Cochrane and Councilman John Churchwell believe Game Day has done such a fantastic job the contract might be worth pursuing long-term.
“The comments I’ve heard this season have pretty much been ‘I’ve never seen the fields look this good,” Cochrane said, adding that the PYSC fields were even nicer than the ones in Vestavia.
Sullivan has also heard nothing but compliments on the fields and would like for the Council to consider extending the contract with the company.
Councilman Robbie Roberts hopes that the nice fields could attract travel ball teams which could help offset the costs of upkeep and insure that the fields can be used by Pinson residents for years to come.
According to Churchwell, the city does not yet have the staff or the expertise to do what the company has done, and probably could not hire someone that could do it as cheaply as Game Day has – at a cost of roughly $25 an hour for 20 hours a week.
“We didn’t get enough employees to do what needs to be done,” Churchwell said. “We’ve got those fields up there looking great -we’ve got a lot of good comments on it – and we’ve done that by putting the finances out there to get it done. I think we need to continue with that and I don’t even think it is questionable – we need to keep them on board and let them do their job.”
According to Cochrane, the company has also prepared fields that aren’t actually part of the PYSC contract, such as the football field, at no additional cost. They have even provided all their own equipment, saving the City further expense.
The council tabled the final decision until the mayor could be available at the next meeting.
Another item on the agenda concerned a request from the high school’s cheerleading squad.
Pinson Valley High School Cheerleaders have requested new mats. The old ones were already worn out when they were damaged by the floodwaters over Thanksgiving, and have had a distinct odor ever since, cheerleading coaches Shannon Galamore and Melissa Thom said in a letter to the Council.
The council voted to donate $5,740, the estimated cost for new mats.
The council also announced that the Finance Committee meeting will be held May 24 at 6:30 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.