August 27, 2013

A member of the Carroll Parks, Recreation and Cultural Advisory Board Monday night said an initial canvassing of the community showed support for the construction of a new all-year shelterhouse in Graham Park.

"It was 100 percent of the people who said 'tear it down,'" said LaVern Dirkx, a Carroll School Board member who serves on the parks board.

The board made no formal recommendation to the Carroll City Council but raised the issue of improving the shelter facility, which closes in the winter months. Members informally polled about 50 Carroll residents on the shelter matter, Dirkx said.

Dirkx urged the council to study needed improvements - or the development of a new shelter, possibly into a four-season community center like the one in Breda City Park. The Graham shelter is the second-most-used in Carroll, right behind Southside Park's enclosed facility.

Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers said the shelter serves as an important gathering place for Carroll High School and Kuemper Catholic High School booster events - as well as communitywide activities like the Aug. 10 CarrollFest.

Two members of the council said the current facility has historical value and that the city should proceed with basic maintenance, not the creation of a venue that would compete with private businesses in the city for events.

Councilman Jeff Scharfenkamp said the shelter has historic value and is an "aesthetically pleasing" element of the park.

He also said shelters are intended for picnic-style events - not full-fledged, air-conditioned gatherings that can be held elsewhere, benefitting private businesses.

"You're kind of getting what you're getting," Scharfenkamp said of the $30 daily shelter rental fees.

Councilman Tom Tait said it makes sense to repair the roof soon and solicit feedback from the public on the shelter's future.

"Do you want to see it gone, or do you want to see it there?" Tait said, adding that he agreed with Scharfenkamp's points on the historical value of the current structure.