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Voted out last spring, Reese regains old council seat

The City Council picked David Reese out of three finalists to fill the open District 3 seat at Tuesday night's meeting. The other two candidates for the position were Luke Score and Rellen Hardtke.

The District 3 seat was held by Reese until this past April, when Katie Chaffee defeated Reese by 40 votes to win the spring election.

Chaffee resigned from the position in May so she could apply for her old job as part-time event coordinator at the River Falls Public Library.

Reese has lived in River Falls for 45 years and served two terms on the City Council. He has also served on the library board and as the city's comptroller.

"It wasn't the easiest decision in the world," Reese said of his choice to apply for the position he lost to Chaffee. "I'm willing to put my energy into it again."

Reese said he was convinced to apply by many people disappointed by the commitment of his opponent.

"I thought I was a very good City Council member but a bad politician," Reese said.

Reese said on his application that he would like to see the council facilitate the promotion of the downtown business climate.

When asked what he thought of the city possibly adding fees to help pay for snow removal, street lights and other services, he said the city needs to better educate the public about its intent with such proposals.

Reese will serve through April 2014, when the District 3 council seat will be up for election.

Also at Tuesday night's meeting, City Administrator Scot Simpson gave an update on the possible playground memorializing the three Schaffhausen girls killed last July: Amara, Sophie and Cecilia.

He said while the city has been contacted by Unlimited Play about the Tri-Angels Park, the idea is strictly in the exploratory phase.

Unlimited Play is a nonprofit organization in St. Louis, Mo., that builds parks accessible to all people.

Simpson said three sites identified as possibilities for the playground include Hoffman Park, Greenwood Elementary and a piece of land the city owns at the end of the parking lot at Heritage Park.

Council members agreed the idea is wonderful and a great opportunity, but are unsure of the next steps to take.

Simpson said the city has not set aside money in its capital plan designated for a playground build.

Most cities that have worked with Unlimited Play have had a playground already in the works, he said.

Council Member Diane Odeen suggested putting together a community task force to study the idea and designate a person or group to manage the project.

Council Member Scott Morrissette agreed, saying he read today on a social media site that funds are being raised and that Hoffman has already been picked as the site.

"This is starting to take on a life of its own," Morrissette said. "I think it's starting to get away from itself."

Morrissette went on to say that all the people fundraising for the project have great intentions, but everyone is running in different directions instead of coming together to work toward the goal.

Council members also agreed research must be done to see how feasible the project is and how it can be accomplished.

"At the end of the day, you need some group or entity to take ownership," Simpson said.

The city will continue research and host a discussion with the public and the council at a future time.