SJ seeks grant for special needs recreational equipment

City commissioners have approved applying for a grant from the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Foundation to purchase recreational adaptive equipment such as a water-resistant wheelchair for use at the Whirlpool Fountain. The city also wants to buy sleds for the ice arena and a swing set with a harness for the Tiny Tots Park.

ST. JOSEPH — Whether it’s swinging at the playground, sliding on the ice or splashing in the Whirlpool Compass Fountain, St. Joseph officials want to make sure that all kids get to have fun.

City commissioners on Monday approved applying for a $9,602 grant from the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Rotary Foundation to purchase recreational adaptive equipment for those with disabilities.

If awarded, the grant would be used to purchase a new swing set for the Tiny Tots Park that includes a harness swing; mobility sleds for use at the Howard Ice Arena, that can be pushed or propelled with poles; and a water-resistant wheelchair for use at the Whirlpool Fountain.

No local matching funds would be required, explained Greg Grothous, who supervises parks and grounds.

The Rotary Foundation is offering grants of $5,000 or more to promote “service above self,” with an emphasis on helping youth and other with special needs.

Tree time

Grothous also reported on tree removal, trimming and planting projects coming up.

Commissioners approved a contract with Chop Tree Service, of Grand Rapids, for $49,410, for the removal of 59 trees in the area where street and sewer repairs will take place next year along Kingsley, Morton and Orchard avenues.

Since the work will take place along the bus route of Lincoln Elementary School, and will require street closings, it was decided to do the project during the winter break, from Dec. 21 to Jan. 5. It was also recommended that the work be done between Nov. 15 and March 31, to avoid interfering with the swarming activities of the Indiana brown bat, a federally endangered species, Grothous explained.

Another contract with Chop Tree Service, for removal and trimming in other parts of the city at $20,075, was also approved. This includes 19 removals, at $15,775, and 32 trimmings, at $4,300.

The trimmings can remove weak branches before they fall in a wind storm and damage power lines, Grothous said. Crews also inform city staff when a tree is dying and needs to be removed, he said.

Residents sometimes ask why branches that are near power lines aren’t trimmed by the city-hired company, Grothous said. He said that American Electric Power must do the work themselves or approve a certified person to cut back the branches.

Grouthous said he hasn’t always been happy with the way the trees look after AEP personnel trim them.

With all the trees coming down, commissioners approved a contract with County Line Nurseries, of Bangor, to plant 43 trees in the city right-of-way. The cost will be $14,878, at $346 per tree. Grothous said that no fruit or thorn-bearing trees will be planted.

Tom MacDonald, director of the public works department, said that three downtown parking lots will be resurfaced by Bailey Asphalt, of Niles, at a cost of $60,000. These include the two lots on Lake Boulevard between Broad and Pleasant streets, and the city-owned lot on Main Street, behind the Sherwin Williams building. He said the lots will be patched this fall, and them sealed and striped in the spring.

Contact: jmatuszak@TheHP.com, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak