Parks and rec center
City Manager David Corliss wants planning to begin for a new West Lawrence recreation center at Congressional and Overland drives.
Corliss proposes $300,000 be spent in 2010 for planning and design for a center that could be built on 40 acres the city owns just north of the new Wal-Mart store.
“It is an area that is underserved,” Corliss told city commissioners during a study session Monday.
The city does not have a general purpose recreation center west of Kasold Drive. The new center, as proposed, would be near the city’s Indoor Aquatic Center at Free State High School.
Commissioners stopped short of endorsing the idea, but said they wanted to hear more.
Corliss said the city potentially could have money to pay for the center after bonds for the Indoor Aquatic Center are paid off in 2012. Corliss said he also would propose moving the city’s parks and recreation offices to the center, which would allow the city to no longer lease space for the offices at 947 N.H.
“But we know we have to proceed cautiously,” Corliss said. “We understand we’ll not only have to have money to build it, but also to operate it.”
Users of the city’s Prairie Park Nature Center and the South Park Wading Pool likely will be asked to help the city’s budget a dollar at a time.
City leaders on Tuesday released the details of a proposal to raise fees for several parks and recreation programs. The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board unanimously recommended the creation of two new fees. They are:
• A $1 fee for adults to enter the Prairie Park Nature Center. Children 5 to 12 years old would be charged 50 cents. Children 4 and under would be free with a paid adult admission. The department also would offer a $40 annual family pass. The fees are expected to generate about $10,000 per year.
• A $1 fee for children to use the South Park Wading Pool. Adults would be admitted for free. The fee is expected to generate about $2,000 per year.
“We hope this is a continuation of what we’ve tried to do for years and years, which is cover some of our expenses but not make it too much of a burden on the public,” Ernie Shaw, interim director of parks and recreation, told the board.
Shaw said city leaders were backing away from several other fee ideas that they had previously considered. He said because of the poor economy, he’s recommending against increasing fees to the indoor and outdoor aquatic centers in 2010.
He said he will also recommend against charging a fee to use the weight and cardio rooms at the city’s recreation centers. He said installing a key card system to allow the city to charge for use was going to cost more than the fees would probably generate.
But the department will likely begin selling advertising space at many of its ballparks and recreation facilities, city leaders said.
“We’ll take an active look at sponsorship,” City Manager David Corliss said. “I don’t know that we need lifeguards with advertising on them, but we’ll look at other things we can do.”
Shaw said possibilities included advertising on fences at ballparks and playing fields, and maybe even a logo painted on the bottom of the city’s swimming pools.
The city may also seek a title sponsor for the City Band concerts held in South Park. Currently, the city provides about $12,000 per year to the band. Shaw said another possibility was to set up a donation box for the concerts.
“We have 1,500 to 2,000 people there for most concerts,” Shaw said. “I can’t believe most of them wouldn’t throw a dollar in a hat.”
The advisory board also unanimously recommended previously announced fee increases for the city-owned Eagle Bend Golf Course. The new fees would increase weekend rates from $23 to $25 for 18 holes and from $15 to $17 for nine holes. Weekday rates would not change. Cart fees, though, would increase by $1 for all days.
The new golf fees would start July 3. The fees for Prairie Park and the wading pool would not begin until 2010.
City commissioners will have the final say on the fees as part of the 2010 budget process, which is expected to be completed by early August.