By Travis Gulbrandson
Two new concepts for the Prentis Park and pool project were unveiled during a public input session Monday night, in addition to the two that were shown to the city council last week.
City and project officials stressed that that’s what they are – just concepts.
“We’re trying to get an overall concept master plan before we get into phasing and what will be built first, and so forth,” said Peter Boerboom of TSP, Inc., which is acting as a consultant on the project.
“These are not what we’re going to start building,” said Parks & Recreation director Jim Goblirsch. “There’s a whole lot of steps in between.”
These comments arose following questions unrelated to the actual design of the park, on which the city was seeking public input.
Many questions were asked regarding the ins and outs of financing the project, which Boerboom estimated at $6-6.5 million.
However, since the designs are strictly conceptual at this point, no financial plans have been established, officials said.
“We just need somewhere to start (from a design perspective),” Goblirsch said. “You can’t start with a grant (application) if you don’t know what you need it for.”
City council member John Grayson said getting public opinions regarding the design concepts is “critical.”
“The way I and others approach issues such as this is, ‘Let’s give ourselves permission to dream. … This is the Christmas list, and let’s put everything on it,’” Grayson said. “We’ll figure out the money stuff later. There are a variety of funding sources that we can explore, but we can’t explore them if we don’t know what the dream is.”
Steve Ward, a member of the city council and the pool committee, said a project like this is an investment in the community.
“The city council and the economic development group here in town have looked at all these things and done studies, and one of the big studies that they did said, in order to attract people here, we have to have a place in which they want to live,” he said. “Part of that is improving the aesthetics of the town itself. …
“It may take an infusion of capital to do that,” he said. “That is the role of government, to invest in the public, and from my point of view, that’s what this plan will do.”
The majority of the estimated budget – about four-fifths of it – is the pool itself, Ward added.
“The pool is the big cost,” he said. “I think what it will have to come down to is, if we decide that we want to move forward on this bigger, larger plan, we can always stop it.”
All four of the conceptual plans have commonalities, Boerboom said.
“Along the west side of the park we thought it was important – because of all the student population – to place some of those real active features (there). Sand volleyball, new basketball courts, the horseshoe pits,” he said.
Another feature that is seen on all of the plans is a maintenance building that will be used by the entire park.
“We placed it close to the baseball field, because that’s where you have a lot of intense use of that building, for equipment and so forth,” Boerboom said. “We would kind of marry that up with two new toilet facilities.”
The aquatic center is near the center of the park in all four plans, albeit in different configurations.
Concepts A and B have the pool and slides in the middle, with the new bath house to the north and the lazy river to the south, while Concepts C and D have the lazy river to the north and the bath house to the south.
On all four plans, parking is to the southeast of the baseball field, but again in different configurations.
In Concept A, a one-way circulation of vehicles and parking is brought in off of Prentis Avenue on the east, bringing that in and an aquatic center drop-off that wraps around the water tower.
Concept B features a leg of parking that would wrap along the south edge of the baseball field. 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.
Goblirsch said Concepts C and D came about in part because of public concern over pop-up fly balls. In each, the parking lots are to the southeast of the field, past the grandstand and the new maintenance building.
Concept C will feature a new entry point off of Prentis Avenue, and a roundabout drop-off area to the east of the aquatic center. There will also be 84 parking stalls.
Concept D has a separate entrance and exit point off of Prentis, and while it will have an aquatic center drop-off, it will not be a roundabout. There are 80 parking stalls in this plan.
Goblirsch said people need to remember that whatever design is chosen, it will be around for many years.
“The Prentis pool that’s out the right now is approximately 45 to 50 years old, so when we’re looking at this, this isn’t just a five-year plan,” he said. “This is something that we’re looking at down the road for a long, long time.”