Park and Rec progressing with park district projects; trail repairs; pandemic changes

The city Park and Recreation Advisory Board met May 11 with a quorum for the first time since November though they met without a quorum in January.

Steve Herrig, Park and Rec director, updated the board on park district projects, as well as some being funded with Community Development Block Grant funds.

Work is currently underway to rehab portions of the trails in Gibson Park and Elks Riverside Park. The project also includes resurfacing the basketball courts in Gibson and a concrete pad next to the courts for the installation of outdoor fitness equipment.

Elks Riverside Park trail rehab will impact parking and access

Those trail projects are being funded with $340,540 in park district funds and $137,500 in CDBG funds. The concrete pad is being funded with $50,000 in CDBG funds.

The list of current park district projects is on the city website here.

Work will start soon in Jaycee Park to convert two existing tennis courts that are in poor condition into six pickleball courts, reconstructing the basketball court and adding new sidewalk and a pavilion.

Contract for Jaycee Park improvements on Nov. 5 commission agenda

The contract for the $268,148 project was awarded to United Materials in the fall. Herrig said the company asked for a delay to start, but work is expected to start this week.

Park and Rec staff is currently looking at options to replace the restrooms at Oddfellows Park with a prefabricated facility that can be dropped in. Herrig said that’s an estimated $151,000 for the facility, delivery and installation, but the city would need to prepare the pad and stub in utilities.

Two Park and Recreation projects completed this week

The existing facility is on septic with a drainfield and the closest sewer line is across River Drive so Park and Rec staff is working with city public works staff to consider options and costs of connecting to that sewer line, Herrig said.

Irrigation improvements for Jaycee, Roosevelt and Valleyview parks are currently out for bid, Herrig said.

A play structure has been purchased for Grande Vista Park and it’s arrived, but staff hasn’t been able to install yet since the city has been operating on minimal manning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The city also opened bids for repairs to the slide on the River’s Edge Trail on the south side of the river between Black Eagle Dam and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

The city received a $237,400 Missouri-Madison River Fund grant for the repair project.

Other contributions for the project include $16,300 from Northwestern Energy and $30,000 from the River’s Edge Trail Foundation, according to the city.

City gets $237k grant for repairs to River’s Edge Trail

In July, the City Commission approved a $9,000 professional services agreement with TD&H Engineering to provide geotechnical engineering services to assess the trail and provide repair options.

Park and Rec is also dealing with pandemic closures and the phased reopening guidelines.

Section of River’s Edge Trail closed to fix drainage issues

The fitness center in the Community Recreation Center will open at 50 percent capacity on May 18, Herrig said. The daycare has been operational under the state guidelines and it has a separate entrance to the leased space.

Staff is still working on plans for summer camps and the outdoor camp planned for June is unlikely to happen, staff said. The department doesn’t have the capability to transport children within the social distancing guidelines.

“We just don’t know what this is going to bring,” Herrig said of the pandemic’s impact to summer camps.

The aquatics supervisor left the city for a job on base and Herrig said the plan is to hire a temporary aquatics director to get through the summer season, then decide how to reorganize the department.

Pandemic hitting city, county budgets

The current thought is to make the Rec Center manager the overall recreation manager with recreation and aquatics divisions reporting to her.

The city is also working through the guidelines pertaining to pools as staff develops operational plans for the summer and hopes to be able to open the neighborhood pools and Mitchell Pool.

Bullock updates phase one to allow gyms, some pools, movies theaters and museums to begin opening May 15

The indoor pool at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind is closed since the school has been closed, bringing all city aquatics programs to a halt during the pandemic.

It’s unlikely the splash parks, slides or lazy river at the water park will be opened, staff said.

Opening city pools is also dependent on when the city can access a pool to get lifeguards certified, Herrig said. Staff has been in touch with Great Falls High to determine if that pool is available for lifeguard training.