Brookfield City Council meets, swears in new members, hears from community

Angie Talken
Linn County Leader

At the regular monthly meeting of the Brookfield City Council, a swearing-in ceremony was held for newly elected Councilmen Richard Techau and appointed Councilmen Paul Barger. 

Barger replaced Katherine Ballard who resigned her position. Barger will fulfill her term, which expires in April 2022. Techau was elected to the council during the April 6 Municipal Election. 

Brookfield City Clerk Donna Barger, left, swears in Council members Richard Techau, middle, and Paul Barger, far right.

In the new council's first order of business, Lonnie Trentham was nominated to be mayor by Councilmen Paul Frey and Barger made a motion to nominate Frey as mayor pro tem. All council members voted yes, confirming those nominations.

Trentham then read a proclamation marking May 9-15 National Police Week in Brookfield. "I would like to thank (Police Chief) Joel (Dixon) and his crew for all they do - they do a great job for our city," Trentham said. 

He also read a proclamation recognizing April as General Aviation Appreciation Month.  

The council also awarded annual bids for oil, plastic pipes, culverts, and rock for city use. The IT services contract was awarded to Missouri Printing with Richard Palmer, backdating the agreement to Jan. 1. The new contract expires on Dec. 31. in his first action as a council member, Techau made a motion to approve the contract. 

Following an earlier work session discussion, the council formally approved a change to the ATV/UTV/golf cart ordinance. The new change states no ATV/UTV or golf cart shall be driven faster than 30 mph in city limits. Where there is a lower speed posted, ATV/UTV and golf cart drivers should follow the posted speed limit, City Attorney Adam Warren noted. That ordinance change goes into effect May 1. Dixon noted that the permit and flag requirements are still in effect.

During the April 20 meeting, Trentham noted the council chambers were full of citizens. During the citizen comment portion of the meeting, several city residents including Marcia Cunningham and Nancy Saccaro spoke about concerns involving Twin Parks, as members of the Brookfield Area Growth Partnership (BAGP). 

Cunningham said she and numerous other residents had their attention drawn to a Facebook post involving teens being at the Twin Parks, at times being vulgar and or preventing children of "appropriate age" from playing on the park's playground equipment. 

Cunningham pointed out the playground area was designed for smaller children, and among other concerns she was worried about damage to the equipment. 

Cunningham also noted there was graffiti and damage to lighting around the park structure and memorials, that has been paid for by donors when the park was revitalized. Two bronze plaques were noted as damaged at Christmas, and Cunningham asked when the city would be replacing those, as the city has been given the plaques for repair and reinstallation.

City Manager Dana Tarpening noted that the grounds crew recently got both plaques repaired and back and planned to reinstall them soon.

Saccaro elaborated on comments from BAGP members stating that there was a great concern that teens and adults using equipment they are too big for will tear up the area, and stated when the park was redone it was a joint project of the city and BAGP.

"We all care or we wouldn't be here, but with caring comes responsibility and accountability," she said. "When I see some of these things going on in the park (graffiti, misuse of equipment) it makes me sad, it makes me mad."

Saccaro said that if the park was  joint venture then the city and BAGP volunteers needed to continue to work together to come up with solutions to the problems. 

A concerned parent noted that some youth have approached her saying that there are adults telling them to leave the park when they are doing no wrong.

Saccaro said she understood that the teens even needed a place to go, but they should behave appropriately. 

Dixon said that in his experience, "If you build it they will vandalize it. We get about five reports of vandalism a month - not just at the park."

He said law enforcement in town does monitor the park and he also recognizes that teens do need a place to go in town.

"I am the biggest advocate for the kids being there - but I did get tired of all of the vandalism," he said "We have asked teens who go to the park to park in the southwest end. The problem with the park is that if it is not illegal we cannot enforce it. If there are adults smoking at the apr and are of age, there is nothing we can do."

He said that the department is much busier than most residents realize, noting that if an officer sees an issue they do try to address it, and noted they are in and stopping at the park frequently.

"If there is an issue we can help with - please let us know," Dixon said. 

Saccaro then notes there needs to be a solution. 

City Manager Dana Tarpening said that the city has 11 parks and three employees who work in the building and grounds department. 

"This is nothing new - I have worked for the city for 40-some year and every year, at every park there is vandalism," she said. "Our staff works very hard every day, and every day there are more things added to their list that need attention."