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Steubenville Parks and Recreation Board Seeks Closure of ‘Tot Lots’

If the Steubnville Parks and Recreation board has its way, two more tot lots will be permanently closed.

“Our recommendation is to close two tot lots, Linda Way and Parkdale, and sell the property,” Parks and Recreation Director Lori Fetherolf said. “That’s not really what any of us want to do, but with a staff of five, it’s difficult sometimes to get to those.”

It’s not the first time the board has recommended closing tot lots. In 2019, Councilwoman-at-large Kimberly Hahn had recruited volunteers to mow tot lots in their neighborhoods. Fetherolf said it worked for a while, but for the most part interest waned after a year or so. The exception was Devonshire.

“To this day, it’s constantly being taken care of,” she said. “The other two were taken care of for about a year-and-a-half, then (in 2021) nothing, my staff took care of them. So, the park board had a long conversation about this … we find somebody to do it, they do it for a year, then it comes back up.”

“If we close them, the city still owns them,” 4th Ward Councilman Royal Mayo said. “We still have to maintain them if they’re open or closed … I say we maintain it as a park, let the people use it.”

Fetherolf said before the board did anything, it would have to get the sites appraised.

“In an ideal world I would not close any of them,” Fetherolf added. “I would put new equipment in but … there’s only so much ARPA (American Rescue Plan) money left and everybody wants some. Everybody’s hand is in the pot.”

Council took the recommendation under advisement, along with Flora VerStraten-Merrin’s plea for ARP funding for the Beatty Park Bridge repair. VerStraten-Merrin urged council to “take a serious and long look at restoring the bridge because of its historic value to the city,” pointing out without it, a big chunk of the 99-acre park is accessible only on foot.

“So many historical features in our city and our park are gone,” she said, while also pointing out three areas where the road is now perilously close to the creek bed.

Fetherolf recommended council “wait another month” so the recreation board can finalize its ARP fund request for council’s consideration.

Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi, meanwhile, told council that 15 months in, the ambulance service has been self-supporting.

Capaldi said Steubenville EMS handled 4,831 calls in 2021 — that works out to just about 322 a month, or 10½ per day. Good as those numbers were, he said there were still between 800 and 1,000 calls that had to be routed to mutual aid providers.

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