City approves grant for playground structure at Memorial Park

The play structure shown above is located next to the tennis courts at Memorial Park in Weiser. It was installed about 20 years ago and is in need of replacement. To that end, the City of Weiser was able to fund the work through a $250,000 Idaho Community Development Block Grant under the Idaho Department of Commerce. The Weiser City Council approved the agreement on Feb. 22 and has put the project out to bid. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
Philip A. Janquart
In a special meeting held Feb. 22, the Weiser City Council approved an agreement for a federal grant that will result in new playground equipment at Memorial Park.
 The award is in the amount of $250,000 and will cover the cost to replace the large playground structure located next to the tennis courts at the park.
 Recently awarded, it was critical the council approve the grant as soon as possible, according to City of Weiser Public Works Director Mike Campbell.
 “Once we approve this, we can actually send the bid package out for proposals for construction,” he explained to councilmembers at the special meeting held at noon on Thursday.
 Quick action by the council was needed at a time of year when contractors are planning their construction seasons heading into spring, summer, and fall. Failure to secure one could mean a delay in getting the equipment installed.
 “[Construction] could be anywhere between now and Oct. 1; it all depends on the contracted company at this point,” Campbell said. “The sooner we can get these out to bid, the better we are in getting it done . . . because if we don’t get this out before next month, it could be next year before we can get somebody to put it in.”
 “That’s why we are having a special meeting, so we can expedite the process,” added City Clerk Natasha McDaniel.
 Not present during the special meeting was councilman and Weiser Memorial Hospital Board Chairman Mike Hopkins who was attending a hospital finance meeting. Larry Hogg and Sterling Blackwell attended via phone.
 Councilman Herb Haun explained that, in discussions with Campbell, it is not possible for city workers to complete the work in place of contractors.
 “I asked if the city could put this together and the answer is ‘yes,’ they can, but if they do, it’s uninsurable, so that means we definitely can’t do it,” he said.
 Campbell added, “We can remove the existing and do excavation and ground work, but we cannot put it together because they won’t warranty, they won’t do anything, so then the grant won’t cover it,” he said.
 Equipment and grant:
 The city has replaced several sections of the large piece of play equipment over the years due to wear and tear and recently discovered that the supporting structure is also showing some age, necessitating replacement in the not-so-distant future.
 “We’ve been having to replace pieces and parts of it, and they are pretty spendy,” explained Mayor Randy Hibberd during a Sept. 11, 2023 regular city council meeting.
 The city, therefore, applied for an Idaho Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Idaho Department of Commerce, which was awarded in late February 2024.
 Hibberd signed the Idaho Community Development Block Grant CARES Agreement for Public Facilities on Feb. 23, one day after the special meeting.
 He learned of the program during the Idaho Rural Success Summit held at the Vendome in April 2023 where he met Region IV Development grant administrator Adeanna Jenkins.
 Region IV Development, based in Twin Falls, specializes in providing technical assistance to communities, including preparing funding applications. 
 The CDBG grant must be prepared by a certified grant administrator.
 Jenkins was on hand during the Sept. 11 public hearing to give more detail on the grant and its requirements.
 “There are different types of grants … for water, wastewater systems, fire stations, EMS buildings … then there is parks. Public parks is the newest type of grant offered through this program. 
 “Typically, those are up to $245,000 … and they love playgrounds … they love to do those types of projects.”
 With the addition of money allocated through the 2021 CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, the total available through the CDBG grant is $250,000.  
 Congress provided $5 billion for CDBG programs in response to the pandemic. The idea to improve Weiser’s parks stems from Hibberd’s discussions with high school students as he was developing the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. 
 He asked them what they would like to see improved throughout the city and parks was high on the list. Kids also said they would like things like cornhole and ping-pong available for use at Memorial Park.
 “To kind of help things along, I went to the Blue Cross Community Health Academy and at the end of the academy, they gave each of the participants a $20,000 grant to be used for something health related, and using it in the parks fit that bill,” Hibberd said in September.
 Hibberd said the money will give the city a little extra “wiggle room” in funding and installing the new structure.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
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