Once again, I have been reminded that we are not all in the “same boat” as we try to paddle our way out of this continuing Covid-19 storm.

I am thankful to be able to use this time to reflect, to reconnect with what is important in our lives and even to complete some overdue projects. I am making headway on several, am puzzled about what to do about a few and am trying to ignore others. That’s what I fear has been done regarding overdue projects in the Osawatomie area.

The first has been sitting untended for five years now. That’s the old Swenson Elementary School building at 10th and Pacific. The former West School, it was constructed on the site of Beeson School back in 1955-56. It was abandoned in 2013 because of a leaking roof, an out-of-date heating and cooling system and an abundance of asbestos.

After much discussion and several competing offers, it was sold in 2015 to Family Estates, a Denver, Colo., company. The stated purpose was to build a care facility for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients. That hasn’t happened, and the building becomes more of an eyesore with each passing season.

I don’t know who is currently responsible or what plans are still viable, but I do wish something could be done.

Then there is the unfinished project in our back yard. Once again, there is a lack of clarity about responsibility. We wrote our check to the Osawatomie Rotary Lake Improvement Project on April 9, 2012. The check was cashed, but the promised work still has not been done.

Rotarians and other volunteers worked with city employees to trim brush and put a new roof on the 1939 shelter house. They also redesigned the fireplaces here to make them safe again. The planned patio area was started, neglected, eroded and, around the first of March, started again. It has not been completed.

I’ve been told that the completion of the dirt work is the city’s responsibility and, indeed, the acting city manager promised that the task would be completed last February. Beach and playground improvements have yet to be addressed.

This second project is important to us for three reasons: the money we invested, the proximity to our home and the fact that Walt’s dad was in charge of the National Youth Administration crew that built the shelter house, beautified the City Lake grounds and then tackled clearing the golf course. Eight years seems a long time to wait for action, but that is nothing compared with neglected project No. 3.

It has been waiting since 1983 — 37 years now. It’s the fountain once called PRIDE Plaza, just south of Memorial Hall. When the hall was restored in 1982-83, the fountain was donated as a gift “to the citizens of Osawatomie” by the family of Alden O. Weber. It was designed by local sculptor Will Nettleship and, for a brief time, was lighted at night so passersby could admire the setting and its floral plantings.

The fountain has not worked for years and has been boarded up. Again, I’ve been told that the problem is electrical and that concrete removal would be needed to repair the non-functioning fountain and restore some pride to the plaza.

On July 4, 2021, Memorial Hall, a tribute to the soldiers and sailors of World War 1, will be 100 years old. That seems a good reason to render this “gift to the city” operational and a symbol of civic pride during an otherwise trying time.

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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