Archive for Thursday, January 26, 2006

Council to weigh park’s priority

January 26, 2006

The city has land for a new park.

It has a plan for a new park.

The question now facing Lansing City Council members: Where does a new park fall on the city's priority list?

Mayor Kenneth Bernard reminded council members of several "unfinanced" projects they must prioritize after officials with Jeffrey L. Bruce & Co. presented the park master plan during last week's council meeting.

"What we're going to have to do is sit down, in my opinion, we're going to have to sit down with all the unfinanced requirements that we came up with - Bittersweet, Gambel and the park - and figure out how we're going to do all that and in what priority."

Richard Yates, a senior landscape architect/project manager with Jeffrey L. Bruce of Kansas City, Mo., walked council members through the master plan for "Lansing Community Park," which would be developed on 128 acres of rolling land the city owns near 4-H and Gilman roads.

Yates said the plan as presented was a "21st-century park" for Lansing.

"Looking to the future, 100 years from now when this thing is built out and you're looking to expand more, this hopefully will be the gem in Lansing's Park and Recreation book," Yates told council members as he walked them through the various features of the plan.

The plan for the park, which drew heavily on community input, includes:

¢ A large open space, or "green," where community events such as Lansing DAZE could be accommodated, along with a Lansing DAZE pavilion;

¢ A farmer's market shelter;

¢ A football field;

¢ Three full-size soccer fields and two youth-size soccer fields;

¢ A baseball field, three softball fields;

¢ An amphitheater;

¢ Sheltered picnic areas;

¢ Walking trails;

¢ And a state-of-the-art aquatic center featuring a "lazy river" where visitors ride along on floatable devices, water slides and a 1,000-gallon bucket that fills with water before dumping itself on anticipating children.

The master plan recommends the park be built in five phases, at a total cost of just over $22 million - down from an earlier estimate of nearly $30 million.

The first phase, with an estimated cost of $3.5 million, would include construction of the main entry road and a loop road through the park; a mass grading of parking lots and football, soccer, baseball and softball fields; seeding of the playing fields; construction of at least the first mile of walking trails.

"We're now January 2006; spring 2006 should begin the design process for what we consider should be Phase 1," Yates said.

Not so fast.

Council members seemed in no hurry to commit to any additional spending on the park - at least not yet.

"I think we all know what we're looking at as a council," Bernard said at the end of Yates' 20-minute presentation.

Other council members remained silent about the park, until the end of the meeting when Harland Russell raised the issue. In short, he asked, what's next?

That's when Bernard reminded council members of the need to extend Bittersweet from its current dead end near Brook Meadow Road to West Mary Street, to ease traffic between Lansing Middle School and the to-be-constructed new Lansing Elementary School. The city also is contemplating improvements to Gambel Road, which will extend behind Lansing Lumberyard to Ida Street and provide alternative access to the new Carriage Hills Center.

"We've made a significant investment in the property; we've made a significant investment in this plan," Russell noted. "I know we have some other plans that we've paid for that we haven't really implemented, and I'd really like to see us work hard at trying to get to that first phase, getting this project off the ground and providing that park facility for the people."

Bernard said he agreed "100 percent" with Russell, but reminded him again of other projects and the need for the council to prioritize their spending.

Said Council President Kenneth Ketchum, "I think we just have to look at it at a work session and see what priority it has."

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