By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MASON - A skate park, a new customer service representative and the widening of the Western Row and Snider Road intersection are among the projects the city is planning next year.
City Council approved the 2003 budget, which projects about $30 million in general fund spending, during its Monday night meeting. Council still needs to approve any expenditure of more than $15,000 before the projects move forward.
"We have a very conservative budget," Councilman Peter Beck said. "Overall, what we've done is cut the budget by about 9 percent."
The city is planning several infrastructure projects, including replacing the Pine Hill Lakes Park playground for about $175,000.
An estimated $29,000 is slated for the planning and design of a skate park. While construction is not likely to start next year, the money would let the city start looking at designs and evaluating possible locations.
"It's been talked about for a couple years now, so the pressure's been on a while," Assistant City Manager Eric Hansen said. "It would be a study to tell us where a good location would be and the pros and cons of that location."
Skate parks have popped up across the country, including the half-acre Baker Bowl Skatepark in Middletown. The park, which opened in 1999, features several bowls, benches, curbs, and banks for in-line skaters and skateboarders to practice their grinds and turns.
The city also anticipates widening and adding a new traffic signal to the intersection at Western Row and Snider roads. Officials were concerned about the narrow lanes and not having left turn lanes.
They also want to add a customer service representative at the new municipal building, at 6000 Mason-Montgomery Road.
"The ultimate goal or interest is to make it a one-stop shop," Mr. Hansen said. "We'd still utilize the volunteers as much as we could at that desk, but the customer service representative is meant to be more of a quasi-supervisory role."
Additionally, the 2003 budget lets the city replace some equipment - including three police cruisers - and add new service vehicles to the city's fleet.
About $1.1 million in revenue is not budgeted and could roll over to the next year or used for other projects during the year, Mr. Hansen said.
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