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The Scoop - New Jungle Jym too much for now
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When it comes to things I like, fun tops the list. I've found I enjoy fun and would like to have more of it, if possible.

When it comes to the city of McMinnville and its budget, the Parks and Recreation Department is the fun. It's the icing, the extra cheese, the guitar solo.

A request by Parks and Recreation for $700,000 over three years for a new Jungle Jym has created a wide range of responses. To be exact, it created 351 responses on the Southern Standard Facebook page, which has become a great community forum. I enjoy reading the comments as a way to get feedback on key issues.

A number of people posting on our page expressed great support for a new and improved Jungle Jym. The current Jungle Jym is getting a little age on it, 25 years to be exact, and a $700,000 replacement might have even more exciting features than the original. It might be like "Friday the 13th Part II" which was way better than the first film.

Online comments also mentioned several things people would prefer to spend tax dollars on instead of a $700,000 Jungle Jym. These included projects like an indoor pool, better roads, and a much improved animal shelter. 

My favorite comment was the suggestion to leave the Jungle Jym as it is with some repairs if necessary and take the $700,000 to build a really nice playground at Pepper Branch Park. That would certainly give an area already filled with kayakers and river enthusiasts an extra jolt.

The $700,000 price tag came as sticker shock for many local residents who expressed disbelief in the cost estimate. There was a time when $700,000 seemed like real money, but nowadays it's more like pocket change when it comes to government projects.

City officials listened to the Jungle Jym request and took it under advisement. If I were making predictions, I don't think the $700,000 in upgrades is going to gain any traction. I think the request will be put on hold and considered again in future budget discussions years from now.

There are far too many other needs in city government at this point and Parks and Recreation will probably have to move to the back of the line after receiving $10 million worth of upgrades to Milner Recreation Center. It's time for other city departments to get a few gifts instead of having all the neat toys directed to Parks and Rec.

I'd really like to see city sidewalks improved because I would classify a number of them in very poor condition. Roads are an even greater issue because most everyone drives on our roads but much fewer people take advantage of our sidewalks.

I think the TDOT suggestion on today's front page to reduce Morford Street to two lanes and enhance the street with planters and better walkways is one which would make downtown McMinnville even more attractive.

In short, the city can't spend all its money on fun. Taking care of infrastructure might not be glamorous but it's key to having a great city.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.