The city's Parks and Recreation Department presented all of the complaints and requests for service (RFS) received for Crescent Park dating back to 2019.
The response comes from the written enquiry from Coun. Dawn Luhning asking for an update on the maintenance of the park as well as ongoing work and challenges the city is facing.
The city received 84 documented complaints or requests for service since 2019. The top five issues were snow removal on pathways (15 complaints/RFS), condition of the serpentine (nine complaints/RFS), pathway lights not working (seven complaints/RFS), graffiti and vandalism (six complaints/RFS), and weeds in the flower beds (six complaints/RFS).
The response from the Director of Parks and Recreation Derek Blais said the biggest concern right now is the water quality in the serpentine due to the emergence of duckweed and waterweed. It's believed this was the result of low water flow and the current depth of the serpentine.
"When conditions are dry, there is a very limited supply of fresh water, which can make the water stagnant and create an environment for the duckweed and waterweed issues we are experiencing," Blais' response said.
"The Spring Creek system passing through Crescent Park is also decades old and could have some culvert crossings and other stormwater sewer piping issues that are affecting the water flow through to Crescent Park."
The response noted that once the serpentine reaches a certain depth, the water flows back into the stormwater network on the south side of the park near the outdoor pool. The water remaining in the serpentine is recirculated by a pump that feeds the waterfall on the north end of the park, and the two fountains to keep the water circulating in the middle of the serpentine.
Blais' response said the city's engineering department is conducting a hydraulic evaluation and condition assessment of the Spring Creek system which could provide information on the condition of the stormwater and drainage infrastructure leading in and out of the serpentine.
Blais said dredging the entire length of the serpentine would address the depth issues but would pose issues with getting large hydro-vac trucks and other equipment into the park without damage to the pathways and the landscape. The total cost to dredge the serpentine, including pathway and landscape repairs, is estimated between $500,000 and $600,000 and would take about four to six weeks to complete, not including pathway and landscape repairs.
Other challenges the city is facing in Crescent Park include security and safety. Additional lighting has been installed, picnic tables have been removed and shrubs and bushes have been cut back in the area around the Moose Jaw Public Library and the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery. The Moose Jaw Police have also increased their presence within the park.
The city has found that homelessness and overnight sleeping in the park is an ongoing problem. Park staff have reported picking up broken glass, drug paraphernalia, clothing and blankets, and garbage each morning. The city has also received reports of fires being started overnight near the library and art gallery and the amphitheatre.
When it comes to tree removal and pruning, Blais acknowledged that his department has fallen behind on tree pruning and removal on the northwest side of the park because it cannot be accessed with a bucket truck. There are also a number of dying poplar trees in front of the library that need to be pruned or removed.
Blais' hope is that city crews will spend a week this fall to clean up the area. However, it will mean the removal of some hedges along Fairford Street and Langdon Crescent to allow for proper access.
An assessment of the condition of stone stairwells and pathways is being made a priority in 2024. Blais said the asphalt pathways next to the serpentine are an ongoing challenge as they continually crack and heave. Options for reducing cracking are expected to come out when future excavation work is done on the serpentine. Crack sealing is also expected in the parks and recreation department's 2024 budget.
For snow removal on pathways, Blais said it would be a challenge to get snow removal equipment on the pathways near the serpentine when conditions are icy as there is limited space. He said now that the trails and pathways master plan are completed, there will be a review of winter maintenance for all pathways in the city.
Two locations in the park have been identified for irrigation as the turf has been struggling. The area by the amphitheatre near the dance floor has been a challenge for the city due to insufficient irrigation. The city is looking at options to expand irrigation or add other materials such as crusher dust to reduce weeds.
The grass around the former YMCA building site was also identified as the city had to manually water this area. Blais' response said they have obtained price quotes to add permanent irrigation to the area and will prioritize that area in the five-year capital budget submission.
While the city has received many complaints about the condition of the park, Blais said they have also received several compliments.
"As the director of the department, I am pleased with the ongoing efforts of our staff in preserving the natural beauty and history of Crescent Park," Blais said. "We have a very passionate team whose efforts often go unnoticed, and I would like to recognize their commitment to making Moose Jaw such a beautiful attraction to many."
He closed his response by saying the challenges the department is facing are not for a lack of effort but are much greater issues that they are committed to addressing.
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