PENDLETON — The town council Thursday passed an ordinance clarifying an earlier ordinance which some believed effectively discontinued the Fall Creek Park Board.
Bryan Williams, president of the park board, scolded council members who last week voted in a special session to adopt a measure that would shift authority for appointing four of the park board’s seven members from the council president to the full five-member council.
However, language in that ordinance could be interpreted as discontinuing the 50-year-old park board, according to the town’s attorney, Jeff Graham.
“It was a clarification from the previous ordinance, because what we had done the week before didn’t meet state statute,” said Council President Chet Babb. “So we clarified it and took that part out of the original ordinance.”
Williams said council members voted on the issue without consulting with him or any other park board members.
“Three of you voted last week to disband the park board — the most drastic action taken since the park board was created 50 years ago — with zero contact with anybody on the park board,” Williams said. “Stop talking about communication unless you’re going to back it up.”
According to Williams, Falls Park received about $500,000 in property tax revenue in 2021. Allowing the ordinance to stand without clarification, he said, would have ended that funding.
“Can you imagine the fallout that you would have received had the park lost a half a million dollars in funding?” Williams asked the council members. “The town would have inherited about $4.1 million in bond debt.”
Clarifying the ordinance became important, Graham said, because the earlier version failed to comply with notices required by Indiana law. The updated version, he added, makes it clear that the park board was legally unaffected by the adoption of the earlier ordinance.