The former Cliff Schirg field at Sandusky's Huron Park might become known as Home Depot Park if the giant retailer follows through on a suggestion from a city activist to help with renovations at the ball field.
Waterfront watchdog Tim Schwanger posted a comment at sanduskyregister.com Monday about the effort. He contacted Home Depot, he said, "to see if they would be interested in taking on the repair and painting of the fencing as one of their projects."
Getting the park cleaned up has hit some roadblocks, however, from city officials. Commissioners Diedre Cole and Wes Poole during a recent commission meeting asked city staff to drag the field once a month to make it safer for the children who use the ball park.
But city manager Nicole Ard, Smith and other commissioners all refused to support the request, contending there weren't enough city workers to occasionally maintain the field. Commissioner Julie Farrar suggested Poole seemed ignorant for asking grounds workers to clean up the park.
"I guess you could get all that work done with just those four people and that wouldn't overwhelm you?" Farrar stated in an email to Poole. "You're so awesome."
But the park was cleaned up and the infield was dragged for weeds and rocks, in a quick makeover June 4, the same day the Register published a story about the rift among commissioners.
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Smith has since stated on his personal Facebook page that the cleanup at the field was in the process of being scheduled but he didn't mention whether that schedule would have allowed for the park to get cleaned during summer break.
Smith has used the social media site to post information about city business and events announcements. He's also used the site to complain about his colleagues on commission, Schwanger, and the Register. Smith has suggested the Register's coverage in articles about the ball field and other news has been inaccurate, but his complaints in that regard don't reflect accurate detail or description, or warrant corrections. The Register publishes corrections whenever information reported is determined to be inaccurate.
In his second year on commission, Smith has declared that the Register is backing a Schwanger for city commissioner campaign because Schwanger has been quoted in news reports about the ball field and other efforts in which he's been involved. Smith has made similar suggestions about commissioners Cole and Poole, complaining when they are quoted in news articles.
"Rumor has it is the Register has started working on Mrs. Coles re-election campaign, as well as a new campaign for Tim Schwanger, so stay tuned to the Sandusky Register for Cole/Schwanger feel good stories," Smith posted at the site.
Smith's statement is not accurate.
Schwanger said Tuesday he is considering a run for city commissioner, but he's also stated that in the past. He is a longtime activist and has previously said he believed he could accomplish more in that role than as a city commissioner. The commission seats currently held by Cole, Brown and Hamilton are open seats this fall in a bipartisan election. There are no declared candidates.
Schwanger and others spearheaded a petition drive in 2011 to reform city government to eliminate the city manager's position in favor of a strong mayor form of government. The city hired city manager Nicole Ard at the time and the ballot initiative was defeated by a margin of 55-45 percent in March 2012.
Schwanger declined to give a definitive answer when asked Tuesday whether he would be a candidate for city commission this fall, but said he wants to work with Smith and others to get the ball field in better shape.
"We are hoping to see Commissioner Smith (maybe he will donate the paint and equipment) and his Facebook supporters, along with community members (you too Waldo) lend a helping hand," Schwanger posted at the sanduskyregister.com. "That is if Smith doesn't try to sabotage the effort."
Several other readers posted at the article saying they'd be willing to help the effort.
"I have called the city to see if the SHS class of 98 can fix up the park," bucsfan98 posted Wednesday. "I am waiting for an answer from city manager."
Ard has not responded to inquiries from the Register and it's unknown if she responded to buscfan98's call. The city manager generally does not return phone calls from reporters or respond to email inquiries. If she does reply, her responses are some times off-topic or nonsensical.
Commissioners Smith, Farrar, Pervis Brown, Keith Grohe, Poole and ex officio mayor John Hamilton also have not replied to an email from the Register seeking more information.
Cole has said she's glad the field was cleaned up and hopes the city manager can make sure it gets continued attention.