Clarkston City Council approves Pony Cycle installation at Depot Park

By Megan Kelley
Clarkston News Editor
During its meeting on April 8, the Clarkston City Council voted 4-1 in favor of installing a pair of non-motorized Pony Cycles in Depot Park. Councilmember Peg Roth cast the lone nay vote. Mayor Sue Wylie and Councilmember Mark Lamphier were absent from the meeting.
Council approved the project at a not-to-exceed cost of $3,500 to be paid upon project completion and upon approval from the city engineer and risk management.
The original motion did not include the payment on completion and approval but was amended after council discussion.
The purchase will be made using funds from the Friends of Depot Park budget which currently has a balance of $6,500.
According to council documents, from 1949 to 1960, Hawk Tool & Engineering Company – owned by Allen Hawke and headquartered in the Mills Building in the Village of Clarkston – manufactured a small motor scooter called the Pony Cycle.
Recently, Terry Hawke, grandson of Allen Hawke, has been working with the city to feature Pony Cycles in Clarkston’s Fourth of July parade this year. Hawke has also planned a reunion in Depot Park following the parade.
In conjunction with these plans, Hawke has also proposed a permanent installation of a safe and simplified version of the Pony Cycle to be placed in Depot Park.
Roth was vocal about her belief that the installation was not appropriate for the park.
“I do not think this is appropriate for the playground,” said Roth. “The age that it will attract – I’ve been out at the playground with my grand kids – actually, my daughter, who is a social worker, and I brought my two grandsons, seven and four, and the conversations of other children playing on the equipment that is there now was so bad that my daughter told me that we should get the kids out of there. They were referring to death and killing and maybe they were talking about computer games, I don’t know. But, this piece of equipment, to me, is not appropriate for the age group that we expect to get into this playground.”
While Roth expressed her concerns, Councilmembers Ted Quisonberry, Gary Casey and Amanda Forte along with Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Rodgers were in favor of the project.
Quisonberry likened the installation to that of some of the other equipment at the park like a skateboard type object that sits on springs that children play on. There is also a bronze statue of a dog at the park entrance that children sometimes sit and play on.
“They use those other things all the time. They’re constantly on that thing bouncing back and forth, going from one to another. Maybe the older kids don’t, except to horse around or something, but I think it’s very appropriate for kids that are two, three, five, up to seven, eight-years-old to be able to go sit there and pretend that they’re driving this thing like they would any other thing. There’s room for it there. There’s room in the budget for it. That’s exactly what we wanted to spend the money for, not this specifically, but the money allocated, $6,500, is to augment and put some things in there,” Quisonberry said.
While Rodgers agreed that the installation itself would be a good addition to the park, her only concern was safety as Hawke had not provided a detailed plan for the bikes to council.
“I think it’s a cool idea. It’s a great idea. It speaks to our community, I love that part of it. It’s just that I know how stringent they (the Michigan Municipal League) are on kid safety,” Rodgers said.
According to Hawke, the plan is to allow the steering handlebars to move back and forth with no cable or control for throttle, no mirrors, and the headlights and taillights would be made of “better material than what a standard bike would have; more steel and rounded to where there would be no sharp edges.”
City Manager Jonathan Smith indicated to the council that he would speak with the city engineer and provide them with the details as they are now and that the two of them would visit the Clarkston Historical Society Museum to view the Pony Cycle on display there and get a better idea of what the dimensions are.
With Rodgers’ concerns in mind, council reiterated that they did not want to spend $3,500 and have the city engineer or Michigan Municipal League risk management come and tell them it didn’t meet their safety standards.
Because of this, council amended the original motion, adding that the $3,500 would be paid upon completion and approval from city engineer and risk management.
The project does not currently have an estimated completion date and where the Pony Cycle will be placed in the park will be decided by council at a later date.

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