Park Board approves three-year deal to keep Festival of Lights in Wavering/Moorman Complex

Frankenhoff and Koetters

Quincy Park Board President John Frankenhoff gives a gift to Nathan Koetters, right, who attended his last meeting as a commissioner on Wednesday night. | David Adam

QUINCY — The Quincy Park Board tabled at its March meeting a proposal to approve a three-year agreement to continue to allow the Festival of Lights in Wavering/Moorman Recreation Complex during the holidays. Commissioners wanted discuss with organizer Eric Dooley about changes he indicated he wanted in the new agreement.

However, Dooley and Quincy Park District officials never met.

The Park Board decided to approve the three-year agreement on Wednesday night, with the hopes that Dooley eventually will let Park District officials know what he wants.

“It is quite possible that if Mr. Dooley does want changes, we will consider those,” Park Board President John Frankenhoff said. “We may need to revise this months down the line, but we have time on our side. It’s still a good idea to approve the way it’s written now.”

Asked after the meeting about the improvements Dooley may suggest, Exrecutive Director Rome Frericks said he wasn’t confident Dooley would talk to him.

“I reached out to him in January and had a good 30-minute discussion with him,” Frericks said. “Other than changing the dates (for the Festival of Lights to operate), there were no other suggestions from Mr. Dooley. I have no idea what he wants. We’ve reached out to him.”

The Avenue of Lights holiday light displays were in the Moorman/Wavering Recreation Complex from 1999 to 2014. The Festival of Lights display began in 2019. 

Upper Moorman Park is closed to vehicle traffic in mid-October, allowing organizers time to set up attractions in that area of the park. The remainder of the complex will close to vehicle traffic on Nov. 1.

A proposal to have information signs along the Bill Klingner Trail was tabled for a month.

The Friends of the Trails and Right-of-Way donors want to install signs, as well as recognition for land donation towards the trail for the 12th Street to 36th Street sections. Signs were to be located at Parker Heights Park, the parking lot at 1820 Quintron Way and the turnaround at 24th Street. The Friends of the Trails would pay for all three signs and installation.

However, Frankenhoff wanted to table the proposal. The sign in Parker Heights Park was to recognize the work of Edward J. Parker, considered by some as the father of Quincy’s park system. He led a group of private citizens to incorporate as the Quincy Boulevard and Park Association in 1888. 

Frankenhoff, the longest serving commissioner, thought Parker’s wife, Elizabeth, also should be recognized in the signage. Elizabeth Parker was elected to the office of president of the association after her husband’s death. She deeded to the association a 25-acre tract of land in February 1914 that was renamed Parker Heights. 

“(Edward Parker’s) impact has been known for years,” Frankenhoff said. “But when he passed away, she took over the leadership of this group of men over 100 years ago, I think that’s notable. She purchased land north of Gardner Park, which we now call Parker Heights, and said it could be a memorial to her husband. I think she’s definitely worth a mention. I thought we should tap the brakes and redo the sign.”

Commissioners agreed with Frankenhoff and voted to change the sign. A 50-day public comment period on the original sign passed with no public comment, but changing the sign will restart another 50-day public comment period.

“I’d rather get it right,” Commissioners Jeff Van Camp said.

Commissioner Roger Leenerts makes closing remarks during Wednesday night’s meeting of the Quincy Park Board. | David Adam

The Park Board gave farewell gifts to Nathan Koetters and Roger Leenerts. Both were elected to four-year terms as commissioners in 2019 but opted not to seek re-election in April.

Leenerts said he was a “significant user” of the Park District’s bike trails, walking trails, tennis courts, pickleball courts and exercise equipment at multiple shelter houses.

“I know how much hard work it takes beyond just sitting at this meeting,” he said. “I’m very proud of the financial condition of the Park District, and I’m proud of the amount of time that we tried to spend planning rather than reacting to problems.”

Koetters was glad to see his photo on the wall of past commissioners in the board room will be next to the late Jeff Steinkamp, who encouraged Koetters to run for the board and sat next to Koetters in meetings.

“The only reason I did say yes to Jeff is that the board is nonpartisan,” Koetters said. “I truly believe that’s why the board, along with staff, has worked so well together. I’m hopeful it remains that way.”

Frankenhoff hopes both outgoing commissioners will agree to be part of a committee that must be formed as part of a state mandate to study the efficiency of local government. He said the report must be compiled over an 18- to 20-month period, but the committee would only meet four times. Frankenhoff said other entities like townships, fire districts, the Quincy School District and John Wood Community College District, will be asked to form similar committees.

In other action, the board learned:

  • Les Hill, an irrigation consultant from Navasota, Texas, will be at the June meeting of the Park Board. Hill is completing design work for an irrigation system for all 27 holes at Westview Golf Course.
  • Brian Earnest is the new director of business services for the Park District. His first day on the job was Monday. He will replace Don Hilgenbrinck, who will retire later this year after working with Earnest for an undetermined length of time.
  • Lights are being replaced and tested at the youth baseball fields in the Wavering/Moorman Recreational Complex. Mike Bruns, director of program services, said adjusting a few lights near home plate “should solve all of our (lighting) problems.”
  • Cleaning of the Indian Mounds Pool started this week. Bruns said he has “six or seven” lifeguards hired for this summer, and he’s optimistic he will have as many as 12. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” he said.
  • Seasonable weather this spring has put Westview Golf Course 1,411 rounds ahead of last year’s pace, Director of Golf David Morgan reported.

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