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Parks and Recreation Board OKs adding ice vending machines

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com · 340-2441

Ever experience searching for that elusive bag of ice on a 90-degree day with a cook-out in progress?

If so, your troubles may be over.

The Parks and Recreation Board discussed Thursday adding three Ice House America vending machines that would distribute ice at local parks.

Mike McGuire, an Ice House owner, approached Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Dunlap about installing the portable machines at Ingalls Harbor, Wilson Morgan Park and Jack Allen Recreation Center.

“It would definitely be an asset to the community and the city,” Dunlap said.

Purpose

The machines would provide ice to local residents and traveling tournament teams, while also creating additional revenue for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Board member Joel Sandlin said that during tournaments, grocery stores frequently sell out of ice.

For $1.75, the machines dispense either a 16-pound bag or 20-pound block of ice. In comparison, the average cost of a 16- pound bag of ice at local grocery stores is $2.49.

The Board welcomed the idea of adding the structure at Ingalls Harbor. With no concession services available there, the machine would help fishermen.

Jack Allen

At Jack Allen, however, the board questioned how the 24-foot-long, 11-foot-high and 8-foot-wide structure would tie into the park’s thematic scheme.

“We’ve done a lot of work to make it look like it is,” Board Chairman Randy Riehl said. “We need to come to an agreement with the exterior (of
the machine) being complementary with the construction around it.”

The board backed a plan, introduced by member Dwight Satterfield, to extend the parking lot at Jack Allen’s entrance to include a loop that would house the machine. At that location, the structure would be among trees and would not block traffic on the one-way parking lot.

Board approval

Ultimately the board approved the structures at Wilson Morgan and Ingalls Harbor, but refrained from fully backing the one at Jack Allen without either an alteration to the structure’s appearance or approval to extend the parking lot.

“With the board’s approval, I will now take the idea to David Bolding, our liaison, and the Mayor (Don Kyle),” Dunlap said.

Next step

If the city approves the venture, Dunlap will revisit the matter with McGuire. Depending on the contract reached between the city and McGuire, Parks and Recreation would receive a percentage of the machines’ profits.

The board also suggested placing a machine at the campgrounds.

Responsibility for installation expenses and meeting health requirements would rest with McGuire. Dunlap said Parks and Recreation would fund the structures.

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