By Travis Gulbrandson
The public is invited to offer its input regarding two alternate designs for the layout of Prentis Park following the completion of the project to replace the current swimming pool with a new aquatic center.
An open house will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25, in the City Council Chambers.
The Vermillion City Council got a preview of the two plans during its special meeting this Monday, at which there seemed to be a preference toward Concept B.
“We like it a little bit better because I think your playground structures can remain where they are without being disrupted and relocated,” said Paul Boerboom of TSP, Inc., which is acting as a consultant on the project.
The movement of playground equipment in Concept A would be necessitated by the placement of the aquatic center and a new parking area on the east side of it.
“(In Concept A) you can see the big move is to bring in a drive and parking one-way circulation of vehicles and parking off of Prentis Avenue on the east, bringing that in and a drop-off to the new aquatic center, and somewhat of a formalized plan with sidewalks coming from each corner,” Boerboom said.
Under Concept A, the drop-off would wrap around the existing water tower.
Concept B features a different configuration in parking.
“(There’s) a leg of parking that would wrap up tight along the south edge of the baseball field,” Boerboom said. “We pulled it back toward the east as much as we could, knowing that there are foul tips flying over the fence from time to time, so (we’re) just trying to protect those vehicles a little bit.”
One section of the parking area would be at the southwest point of the baseball field, and another would be farther below it along Prentis Avenue.
The parking areas for Concept A and Concept B have 63 and 96 stalls, respectively.
While Concept B has more spaces, there is more of an open area in Concept A.
“There was a lot of discussion about this area along the west side of the park, and how important it was to develop an active zone there related to USD and the students that are in the neighborhood that really use the park as a place to go and get some relaxation and recreation,” Boerboom said.
He added that in planning Concept B, “The thought there was that (the southeastern area) would serve the baseball park, it would serve the aquatic center and it can serve this playground.”
The space taken up by parking stalls in Concept B is “not really giving up space that’s used for park activities now,” Boerboom said.
Both plans contain some similarities. For example, the current drop-off drive to the pool on Plum Street will be removed on both, although Concept B will retain room for approximately 10 parallel parking spaces.
In addition, new basketball courts, sand volleyball courts and horseshoe pits feature in both, albeit in slightly different places.
The pool itself also is in roughly the same place in both plans, and will feature slides and an area for lap swimming, as well as a separate “lazy river” area.
“This is a little bit smaller of a pool, capacity-wise (than in the original plan),” said Parks & Recreation director Jim Goblirsch. “I think this one is roughly about half than the other size as far as capacity. The other one was a maximum of 900. This one is in the 500 area, which is still a good-sized pool.”
The daily numbers of the current pool “rarely” reach more than 200 swimmers, Goblirsch said.
“This would still be more than sufficient for a community of our size,” he said.
Both plans also have a new 30-foot by 30-foot maintenance building located just south of the grandstand that will be used by the whole park.
In addition to being used for storage, it will also include new restroom facilities to replace the current ones.
“It’s just time to update it, and rather than put money into that old building, we thought we would include toilet facilities in that new structure,” Boerboom said.
There were several contributing factors each design had in common.
“From a utility standpoint, the biggest element in the park is, of course, the water tower and the water main running east and west of the park,” Boerboom said. “We’re going to try and stay out of the track of that.
“The other interesting thing is, the park … is on the register of historic places, and that caught our attention,” he said. “It’s a discussion we’re going to have to have with the folks in Pierre regarding the changes and revisions to the park.”
The project is estimated at more than $6 million, regardless of what plan is chosen.
Back in September, the Vermillion City Council approved a resolution that will provide for the accumulation of $500,000 of general fund reserve for the Prentis Pool expansion.
This will be enabled through state statute 9-21-14.1, which allows setting aside up to $4 per $1,000 of assessed value of all property within the municipality.
City finance officer Mike Carlson said the estimated taxable value for 2012 would allow “just over $1.2 million” to be set aside in reserves.