With savings on park district projects, staff working to complete additional projects this year

The city Park and Recreation Department is working through the first year of projects for the park maintenance district funds and has about $168,917 in cost savings.

The cost savings estimate is based on actual cost of completed projects, most of which came in under budget, or engineers estimates for projects that aren’t yet finished.

Some of the savings came from hiring a full-time park laborer that based on timing would only be filled for eight months of the year, and only being able to hire one part-time seasonal employee due to lack of applications. Next year, the full-time laborer will be in position the full budget year, so that cost savings won’t likely be repeated next year, according to Park and Rec Director Steve Herrig.

During the Sept. 17 work session, Herrig walked City Commissioners through the cost savings and how Park and Rec is looking to put those funds into additional projects this year.

With the savings, Park and Rec is planning to put $50,000 to $60,000 toward a new play structure for Grande Vista Park, which has the last remaining wooden play structure in the city. Most play structures around the city have been replaced using Community Development Block Grant funds, but Grande Vista isn’t eligible for those grants since it’s not in a low-moderate income area, Herrig said.

One of the vendors the city uses for play structures has a matching program that could help the city stretch those dollars, Herrig told commissioners.

Another $8,000 would be used to install mulch and a border around the new play structure.

Park and Rec also plans to replace the roof on the Girl Scout Cabin near the skate park on River Drive with a metal roof for an estimated $14,000; replace another Multi Sports dugout for $15,000; overlay the Gibson Park basketball courts for $40,000 and put $20,000 toward replacing some of the 109 crabapple trees that were killed over the winter, particularly those in Gibson Park, Herrig said.

Over the winter, conditions killed off 144 boulevard trees and 204 park trees, including the 109 crabables, Herrig said. To replace all of the park trees would cost an estimated $90,000 and to replace all of the crabapples, would be about $50,000. Herrig said it will take time to replace all of those trees, but putting $20,000 toward that now would get the forestry division started on the project.

For the Multi Sports project, the Confero Sports Foundation will put $20,000 toward the work, Herrig said.

Herrig said the city won’t always have cost savings in the park district projects, particularly since next year, the department is likely to contract out more engineering work, but “I think this is our opportunity to tackle a couple of these,” additional projects.

Commissioners said they were supportive of the plan to get more projects done in the first year with the cost savings and any contracts would still come before the commission for final approval.

With the additional projects, Park and Rec is still anticipating another $10,000 left over in savings that they’ll roll over to the next budget year to put toward those planned projects.

For updates on park district projects, visit the city website or read our previous coverage:

City Commission sets assessments for streets, boulevard, Portage Meadows, park district

Park district projects continuing, some completed this year

Gibson Park restroom contract on Tuesday’s agenda for next park district project

Park district projects continuing; plus golf course, dog park and tree trimming improvements

Park and Rec improvements underway, through park district, grants, CDBG funds

Park district projects underway

Water park bath house renovation opens for bids next week

County attorney affirms lawfulness of park district ballot language; vote certified by Secretary of State