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January 19, 2018

1/12/2018 7:26:00 AM
Woodruff town supervisor issues a warning
Richardson: 'If it happens again, I'll probably take action'

Brian Jopek
Reporter


The recent back and forth between members of the Woodruff and Arbor Vitae town boards got a little more personal Monday at the January meeting of the Brandy Park Commission as one of its members, Woodruff town supervisor Ed Richardson, issued a warning.

In recent months, the immediate future of the partnership between the towns of Arbor Vitae and Woodruff, with regard to Brandy Park, has become an issue.

First, a majority of the Woodruff Town Board was successful during the 2018 budget process in removing what has been the town's annual contribution of $13,000 to the park's operating budget.

The reasoning, essentially, was concern over the amount of money the park commission has built up in savings, most of that money its members, including Arbor Vitae town chairman Frank Bauers and Woodruff town chairman Mike Timmons have argued, will be used up as the park commission pursues projects in 2018.

The Arbor Vitae Town Board, in the meantime, will contribute its equal share of $13,000 for 2018, as outlined in the agreement the two towns, owners of the park since 1963, have in place.

The prospect of the Woodruff Town Board taking a look at the agreement with Arbor Vitae came up during the town's 2016 budget discussions when holding off on the $13,000 contribution for 2017 was discussed.

Supervisor Barry Seidel brought up the possibility at the time of looking closer at the agreement and Woodruff's role but nothing further was done until the 2017 budget work sessions, when it was decided to remove Woodruff's share for 2018.

During a joint meeting of the two town boards this past October, before the Woodruff Town Board's decision was finalized, the contribution from Woodruff was discussed.

Richardson, another long time member of the park commission, and Bauers were in disagreement on the matter, Bauers maintaining, basically, Woodruff should keep its contribution in place and Richardson, along with Seidel, arguing otherwise, saying the park commission will operate in 2018 without the Woodruff contribution.

"It's not permanent," Seidel said.

At a late November Woodruff Town Board meeting, a clarification of the agreement was sought and it was decided to request another joint meeting with Arbor Vitae.

Instead of another special joint meeting, though, a majority of the two town boards attended the December park commission meeting and Woodruff's role was discussed at length.

During the course of that discussion, which included Woodruff town supervisor Shirley Jacoby saying Richardson has suggested the "gifting" of the park to Arbor Vitae, Richardson didn't deny it.

"I personally feel very strongly about not being involved with the park as the town of Woodruff," he said.

Richardson was asked later by Woodruff resident Kyle Timmons why he's on the park commission if he felt that way.

"Because I enjoy working with the town," Richardson said.

"Pinching pennies," Bauers said, smiling.

Timmons persisted.

"So, you don't want to have any discussion on it, though," he said. "You want to gift it to Arbor Vitae tonight if you could."

"It's my opinion, OK, they all know this," Richardson said. "I'm still working hard for the park. Am I not, Frank?"

"You're working hard against the park, in my opinion," Bauers told him.

As it turned out, it was that comment from Bauers which Richardson didn't care for.

At Monday's park commission meeting, he let everyone know.



Comment was 'uncalled for'

Bauers wasn't in attendance but at the end of the meeting where commissioners bring up concerns, issues or proposals, Richardson said he had a concern "that came out of last month's meeting."

"It was said that I was working against the park," he said. "I really didn't think that was a proper comment that was made."

Richardson didn't mention Bauers but everyone in the room knew who it was he was talking about.

"I have a list of things that I have done for the park since I've been on the commission," he said. "Free of charge. Many of them. If you want me to read the list, I could. I'm just a little upset about the comment that I work against the park. Just because I feel that the town of Woodruff doesn't necessarily have to be in the park, that's my opinion. It doesn't mean I'm working against the park. I don't know if you guys realize what I've done down at the park."

Richardson said nobody does, except chairman Todd Hunter, because he doesn't tell anyone.

"I don't want anything for it," he said. "I do it freewill. I've done a lot of stuff down there. So, that comment was uncalled for, as far as I was concerned."

Richardson then referenced another comment made to him after the meeting and again, there was no mention of who made it.

"Someone walking out the building said 'If I went fishing with you, one of us wouldn't return,'" he said. "Under the conditions, I thought that was not a good comment, either. I mean, you can joke a lot about things but that was kind of a little heated meeting and I don't think it was proper for the guy to say that to me."

Richardson, in closing, then issued a warning.

"If it happens again, I'll probably take some action on it," he said. "It's been bothering me for a whole month, that comment especially that I don't do anything for the park but against the park. There's nobody, I don't believe, who's done anymore work down at that park than I have. Free of charge."

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.





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