EAST LIVERPOOL - As of Tuesday's Thompson Park Board meeting, the park was ranked in second place in a national contest sponsored by Coca-Cola that could net $100,000 for the facility.
Park Superintendent J.C. Blackhurst told board members, "The support we've received in the community and nationwide is remarkable. We've had so much support locally and on Facebook."
Votes can be made online at www.livepositively.com, and Blackhurst and his wife have been setting up a tent at the park's entrance when time allows to encourage people to vote and to show them how to do so, using laptops.
On July 13 and 14, votes count double, with the winners to be announced July 15.
Board member Samantha Kinemond said that, when she first started promoting this project, she had "no idea how it would grow," saying she is grateful for the community's support.
Blackhurst said previously much could be done with the $100,000 grant if the park wins.
Ryan Estell, the city's service-safety director, addressed the board as a private citizen, saying he and his wife have cleaned up thousands of cigarette butts at the playground where they often take their son.
He offered to pay the cost of no smoking signs if the board would agree to imposing the restriction.
"That makes good sense," President Burl Warrick said, with Blackhurst agreeing that the sand-covered playground "really is a gigantic ashtray."
The board agreed to purchase several signs with Estell to pay for one or two.
In another sign-related matter, the board was advised by Blackhurst there is a problem with the new signs that declare the park's opening and closing dates.
Instead of a closing date of Oct. 31, the signs say Oct. 1.
After reviewing the notes she used to order the signs, member Betsy Wells said it was her mistake, she had given the sign maker the wrong date. She will contact him to see what, if anything, can be done.
The board also discussed at length where to hang the signs to alleviate as much vandalism as possible, with member Wink Smith advising Blackhurst to use a ladder plus an arms-length to post them as high above ground as he can.
Blackhurst said the number of park visitors seems to be growing, and Warrick said no less than 10 people had approached him at an event over the weekend to say how good the park looks, and he gave credit to Blackhurst and park employees.
Blackhurst said the other employees have been keeping the park maintained, allowing him time to fill potholes, work on the ball fields and playground, promote and market the Coca-Cola contest.
His next project is to repair the fallen stone in the amphitheater.
Blackhurst reported that flowers were planted at the end of May with the help of some children and, while the flowers are not perfectly spaced, the children "had a blast and that's far more important."
A watercolor painting class has been using the park, and yoga is being offered each Friday morning, he reported.
The board will speak to a roofer and to the original stone mason who built the playhouse in the park to see what material can best be used for the roof, which continues to be vandalized.
A motion was passed to purchase five benches from BSN Sports for the baseball field, and although the most expensive of the estimates received, Blackhurst said the company is offering a 10 percent discount and free shipping, which will cut $800 from the price.
Two truckloads of limestone for road repair will also be ordered.
The board will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. July 1 at No. 3 pavilion to discuss a cost estimate for moving dirt as part of the soccer field project.
The next regular meeting will be at 4:30 p.m. July 23 in No. 1 pavilion.