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Darius Miller needs a facelift

PRINCETON — Darius Miller Park could be getting a long-discussed makeover.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Princeton City Council, Commissioner Joel Quiram brought up the condition of Darius Miller Park, which is located on North Main Street by the Amtrak train depot, saying the park needs some serious improvements. He’d like some input from the public on possible ideas.

The one-acre park, with its shelter, a sunken “pit” area and a water fountain display was completed in 1976.

Quiram said he didn’t think the renovation project would be very expensive with city crews able to do the majority of the work, including dismantling the existing park shelter and bringing in dirt to fill the neglected pit area. City crews have the equipment and the experience to do the work, Quiram said.

As long as the city decides not to erect any more buildings on the property, and with the help of community support and involvement, the park project could probably be done “for a pretty good price,” Quiram said.

Looking at possible ideas for a renovation project, Commissioner Bob Warren said the city did have landscape drawings done around 2001, and those drawings could still be available at the street department. Those drawings could be used as a starting place for the project, Warren said.

Quiram said he would also like to ask local landscapers for a conceptual plan for the project.

The renovation of Darius Miller Park was also part of the city’s strategic plan done several years ago, Commissioner Terry Madsen said, but the issue has always been getting the needed money for the project.

With community support and volunteer help, the park project could get done, Madsen said.

In his take on Darius Miller Park, Mayor Keith Cain said the upgrade is long overdue at Darius Miller. He’d like to see the existing shelter removed and the city consider a possible temporary structure that could be used seasonally. He’d also like to see the lower pit area removed.

“That pit is worthless,” Cain said. “I never did see the real purpose of that pit, other than to collect garbage and leaves and stuff rolling in.”

Since the pit has a concrete bottom, work crews would have to either tear out the concrete or punch holes through it in order for the area to drain properly, Cain said.

Quiram said one suggestion he’s received from the public was erecting a life-size statue of Owen Lovejoy at the park. Lovejoy was a Princeton minister, abolitionist and congressman in the 1800s.

In explaining the naming of the Darius Miller Park, Princeton Zoning Officer Pete Nelson said Darius Miller was a Princeton man who was president of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad Co. The railroad donated the park area to the city in honor of Miller after his death. For historical purposes, the city should look at the need to still honor Miller, Nelson said.

After the discussion, Quiram asked again for public input on the project and encouraged residents to contact him, any other council member or Princeton City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh with their ideas.

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