lawyer

Attorney Paul Loucks chats with Benson City Councilmember Pat Boyle after Monday's council meeting. Loucks, who works for Hecker Pew PLLC, will be Benson's new city attorney, replacing Gary Cohen, who was appointed a Pima County Superior Court judge.

BENSON — Attorney Paul Loucks will be providing legal services for the city of Benson, replacing Gary Cohen, who was appointed a Pima County Superior Court judge.

The City Council approved a contract with Hecker Pew PLLC, with Loucks as the key attorney for the city. Loucks has worked with the city in the past alongside Cohen.

“I worked in Benson from 2012 to 2019 when I tag-teamed with Gary,” Loucks said. “I took a lot of the technical issues and he took a lot of political issues.”

While a contract is still in place with Mesch Clark Rothschild, where Cohen is a partner, because of Cohen’s judicial appointment that contract will be terminated. Cohen has agreed to continue his services with the city through February, providing Loucks with background on current Benson issues to help ensure a smooth transition of services, City Manager Vicki Vivian said.

In other business, the city discussed a master plan for badly needed improvements at Lions Park.

A comprehensive plan that from 2016 incorporates features for a master plan for Lions Park.

The council discussion addressed a wide range of improvements that are needed.

A splash pad, more athletic fields, new playground equipment, walking and biking paths, a community center for youth activities and much more are some of the options that were tossed around.

“I think that the playground and athletic fields are front and center,” Mayor Joe Konrad said. “Let’s get an engineering firm to review these things, and give us some estimates ... sooner is better.”

The city will be using bond proceeds to make the improvements.

“The city has approximately $300,000 from bond proceeds for park improvements,” City Manager Vicki Vivian informed the council. “Staff can proceed with park improvements by starting with designing a splash pad.”

Should the council wish to update the master plan, direction would need to be given to staff to start the process. In addition, the subsequent master plan would require council approval.

Councilmember Barbara Nunn is passionate about the park improvements, especially when it comes to the playground equipment.

“It’s dismal,” she said. “It needs to be ripped out and demolished and we need to get new equipment.”

Nunn also said the equipment is too close to the athletic fields and presents a danger to children, stating that it needed to be moved.

“We have the money, we have promised these people time and time again,” Nunn said. “The splash pad is going to show this community how much we do care. It’s going to give back ten-fold.”

At the conclusion of the discussion, Nunn requested that the playground equipment be a priority that staff bring before council at the next meeting on Feb. 22.