JASPER, Tenn. - When Mayor Paul Evans and Alderman Steve Looney toured the older sections of Jasper Park recently, they saw some overdue maintenance needs.
Evans said parts of the park have been "badly neglected" over the years, and "it's really showing."
The needs include replacing a section of fencing at one of the ballfields, buying a replacement three-door cooler for a concession stand and repairing several press boxes, Evans said.
Those fixes will cost an estimated $2,650, and Jasper Parks and Recreation Director Chris Slatton said the park also has electrical problems that need to be dealt with soon.
Last week, the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to make the purchases to address Evans' list of needs.
"These repairs are necessary," Looney said. "We need the repairs badly."
Evans said the replacement 6-foot-tall, commercial chain-link fence, which will cost $1,450 and represents more than half of the total cost of the fixes, is needed for safety reasons.
"It's right next to the walking track, and we're just afraid somebody could get hit with a foul ball or a stray ball," he said. "We need to put that fence back up."
City officials have identified a used replacement cooler for about $700.
The labor on the press box will be free thanks to the Marion County court system's community service program, officials said, but the materials for the work could cost up to $500.
Evans said he wanted the board to approve the requested amount "to be on the safe side," but he doesn't think the press box repairs will cost the full amount.
City Attorney Mark Raines said the "volunteer" carpenter for the press box repairs will not be a liability issue for Jasper because he is not a city employee.
"We do have some immunity," he said. "He's not being covered under our [insurance] because he's not being compensated. [The community service] is a requirement he has to do as a requirement of his probation."
Alderman Paul West said, "Some of the best talent in the world" is "behind bars."
"It helps the city get some needed repairs, and it also gives [the volunteer] credit for his community service work that he has to do as a result of his sentence," Raines said. "So it kills two birds with one stone."