SALEM - City Parks Commission members said they need more information to address their concerns before giving the go-ahead for a 2013 Civil War reenactment at Waterworth Memorial Park.
Chairman John Panezott and commissioner Terry Hoopes both indicated they liked the idea, but were concerned about what could happen to the flora and fauna with the number of people expected, the possibility of horses and damage to the nature trail from a staged battle.
"My only concern is that we don't do anything to destroy that area," Panezott said.
Hoopes had the same concern, along with disturbing the wildlife. There are also houses in the area. He said the event could be good for the city and it would be nice to have a lot of people in the park. He saw a lot of positives. "We need more details,"
he said, along with more discussion.
David Schwartz of the Salem Preservation Society introduced the idea, saying the society was approached by a reenacting group wanting to hold an event in Salem in 2013. He said they've picked the last weekend in July for the possible date, with as many as 400 reenactors a possibility. He said the Salem Preservation Society would use the event as a fundraiser and would post people at the various entrances to the park for gates.
At this point, he said they're reaching out to different community organizations and city leaders to gather support. They already talked to Mayor John Berlin, the Salem Community Center about using the facilities for reenactors to take showers or use the restrooms, the Salem AMVETS about the color guard and drill team and the Salem News about a possible special edition. He said the fire department offered to provide some old fire equipment for a display.
He was asking for permission to use the grounds and indicated possibly using the cross country area for a battleground, explaining the reenactors would camp out in the park for three days and have Union and Confederate encampments. They also would have their own security.
Schwartz was asked to speak to the reenactors to get more information about how many would participate in the battles, how people would watch, whether there would be horses and how much damage could be possible to the grounds.
In other business, the commission agreed to partner with the Salem Public Library for programming again this summer and to expand the programming to include a "Singalong at the Park" family music program from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. on Tuesdays in June and July, tentatively at the band shell at Waterworth Memorial Park.
Renae Ault, childrens' program manager at the library, explained how music is important to learning to read and write for children and this could be a fun activity for families. She said they would sing family friendly campfire songs and "encourage everybody to get up and dance and sing."
She said they hope to get other community partners for the program and musicians when possible to reach a broad number of families.
Library Director Brad Stephens said they also want to continue the adult programming they had last year at the park, called "Go Wild at the Park," which included lessons about the flora and fauna, the wildlife and the birds at the park.
"We appreciate the willingness of the library and the entire staff to work with us," Parks Director Steve Faber said.
Parks Foreman Jim Grimm and Recreation Supervisor Dolores Rogucki both reported business as usual, with Grimm and his staff working on keeping the parks looking good and Rogucki working on the various sporting leagues for spring and summer.
The board approved $4,102 worth of expenses for the month of April up to the date of the meeting.
The board entered an executive session for personnel at the end of the meeting, with no action to be taken. Faber had requested the closed-door session.