Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2005

Council to study possible recreational center, swimming pool

December 1, 2005

On the last day of the season, equipment at Eudora's swimming pool failed.

The equipment failure, coupled with the pool's overall age, has forced the city to consider the pool's usefulness on a year-by-year basis. The city plans to operate the pool for one more year.

But that could soon change if plans -- to be drafted by BG Consultants for a new swimming facility and recreation center -- spark the public's imagination. Residents could see the creation of something entirely new headed their way.

"It would be a basic pool and basic facility that could be expanded upon, so as the community grows, the facility can grow," said Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty.

The city council voted Monday spend up to a maximum of $13,600 from the park impact fee fund to hire BG Consultants to create plans for the possible recreation center.

The initiative crystallized after Beatty discussed the possibility of beginning a new pool and recreation center project with various citizens, ranging from the Eudora Lions Club to the Awareness Coalition of Eudora.

Because she found community members believed plans for the last attempts to build a pool were too elaborate, Beatty focused on creating a project that would do the most for the community.

"A community of this size would generally have at least one community building to take care of the needs of the community," Beatty said.

With Eudora being a residential area, recreation is important, Beatty said.

Beatty brought Tom Arpin, a specialist in recreational facilities from BG Consultants, to the council meeting.

"We do have quite a bit of experience doing this kind of project ---- community centers, community centers and swimming pools, or just-stand alone swimming pools," Arpin said.

Arpin presented basic ideas for the facility to the council.

Arpin said the facility would occupy the same space as the current swimming pool. In addition to the new outdoor pool, the project would include an indoor complex with sports facilities such as basketball courts and separate meeting areas.

"Site design is real important in that we want to make sure that we fit in with the existing amenities, such as ball fields and parking," Arpin said. "It's real important on how we handle that on this project."

Preliminary figures set the full project at $2.5 million. The project could be funded by a city sales tax, as done with previous pool initiatives, to be passed by a community vote.

During his presentation to the city, Arpin presented a preliminary timeline for the project.

He said it would take 60 days to complete design period for the project.

During that time BG Consultants will refine the concept for the community center and pool, draft designs and firm up project costs.

The company will then present the schematic design to the council Feb. 1, 2006.

Following the presentation in February, the project will be up for an April 1 referendum.

If it passes, more intense design work will go into the project, and the city will start taking bids for construction in July and plan to begin construction as soon as the 2006 swimming season is complete.

"We can get the swimming pool in and operating by Memorial weekend 2007, following within a month or two of having the building complete," Arpin said. "That way we would not be without a swim season."

During the preliminary design phase, BG Consultants plans to have community input on the project.

"We'd like to keep it at seven to nine people to make it a manageable committee," Arpin said. "We will look at the scope of work items we've already identified and refine them."

Among the committee, which would be appointed by Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle, a wide range of ages would be beneficial, Arpin said.

"It's important when you have that kind of input from that broad spectrum of people, when you go and try to sell it," Arpin said. "Eventually the voters are going to have to accept this."

After the community helps focus the design, BG Consultants will create models and prepare to present it to the public.

"With that we will finalize the cost estimates and we will present this to the city, and at that point if everything goes fine -- there's always a few changes and a few modifications -- we'll bring it back to the office fine tuned and present it to the city, and also present it at a public meeting to help educate the general public," Arpin said.

Pyle said he had read through the preliminary agreement two or three times.

"It looks like you've done well on it. I don't know what the rest of them think," Pyle said.

The council seemed to agree, passing the funding unanimously.

"We need this project to be something the community wants and something they want to take care of in the future," Beatty said.

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