Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has signed an emergency purchasing order for $1.7 million to fund maintenance work at the city’s parks.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has signed an emergency purchasing order for $1.7 million to fund maintenance work at the city’s parks.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Warren mayor signs emergency order to clean up parks

Fouts cites City Council inaction, a claim rejected by Council President Pat Green

By: Brian Wells | Warren Weekly | Published September 7, 2022


WARREN — In response to what he said were numerous complaints from residents, Mayor Jim Fouts has issued an emergency purchase order to fund maintenance at Warren’s city parks.

Last month, in a press release dated Aug. 18, Fouts said he signed an emergency purchase order for $1.7 million.

Recently, citizens have addressed the condition of Warren’s parks at council meetings and on social media, voicing their concerns about the state of the parks, including poor restroom conditions and unsafe play structures.

“Parks have become an essential service for many Warren residents both young and old,” Fouts said in the release. “This emergency order will go a long way toward making our parks safe, comfortable for young and old.”

Fouts said the order came after the City Council allegedly didn’t act on requests made in previous years, Fouts said.

“The council majority for whatever reason has chosen to do nothing rather than doing something about park clean up and restoration,” he said in the release.

However, City Council President Patrick Green said this “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“Council has appropriated since 2019 an excess of $6 million on top of what was provided for within the budget,” Green said.

Fouts said nobody in the city controller’s office was able to find a record of this.

While he believed the parks needed attention, Green said he didn’t think it was an emergency.

“Maintenance of parks is not something you wake up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to maintain these,’” he said. “It is a continuous, constant, never-ending battle. You go out and you cut the grass and you paint the buildings.”

Green summarized the definition of an emergency as something that threatens the health, safety and welfare of the city’s residents.

Fouts said that the emergency comes from the possibility of people getting injured on playscapes and a lack of safety mulch.

“If we don’t have enough padding on a play structure, that can injure a child,” he said. “And many of our structures, we have pea gravel but now they require mulch. So, all of these are emergencies.”

At the Council’s annual budget hearings, representatives from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department are invited to share what they need, but this year, due to Fouts’ order that his city officials wouldn’t attend, none of them did so, Green said.

“So, when we had all these questions of hey, how are you going to fix this and do you need money for this, no one showed up,” Green said.

As part of an ongoing dispute between the mayor and the Warren City Council, Fouts said he had informed his department heads not to attend the budget meetings this year due to alleged disrespect from the council. Instead, members of the City Council were asked to write questions to city administrators, with responses posted later on the city’s website.

While Fouts stated in his press release that he was worried that the City Council would block the order, Green said the council can’t block it.

“The emergency purchase order says if he declares an emergency that the clerk and the purchasing agents can expand the contract when the bill comes to us,” he said. “Obviously, we’re going to have questions.”