Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pool parking nears finish; playground next

November 22, 2006

With at least 25 new parking places being installed at the Baldwin City Municipal Swimming Pool site, the past summers of parking problems may only be a memory.

For the past month, city crews have been putting curb and guttering and paving parking areas both straight east of the pool and in the park to the south. Parking has been an issue at the pool since it was rebuilt in the late 1990s.

The past summer it even got worse, but there's hope the current project will fix that. Plus, other parts of the project -- such as a new playground -- will add even more.

"The improvements at the pool are intended to make the park more accessible and more useable year-round," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman. "Hopefully, the parking additions will net us at least 25 new spaces, approximately doubling the spaces that are there.

"With the playground improvements we hope to make the park more attractive for use even during the pool's off season," he said. "We will also be replacing the wooden footbridge with a more solid, steel structure."

And, that's not all that's being looked at in the area.

"After this work is completed and the playground is installed -- hopefully before Christmas -- we will also evaluate lighting to see where more lighting may be needed," said Dingman.

At one point, there was discussion of adding parking places between the pool and the Scout Cabin to the west. But, that's not going to happen yet.

"We're not currently planning to add spots between the pool and the Scout Cabin on Fremont Street, although that could still be done if more spaces are needed," he said.

City crews have done the work and the price tag hasn't been high on materials.

"As far as cost, to date we've spent about $1,800 in concrete and about $3,200 in asphalt for the parking improvements and it's still not quite finished," said Dingman. "I feel pretty good about the investment, as the project will sharpen the appearance, function and accessibility of the whole park for a long time."

And, the improvements aren't costing homeowners and businesses.

"This is being paid for with funds we receive from the state gasoline tax, not the use of funds provided by the local property tax," he said. "We typically use the gasoline tax funds for street and road improvements and our annual asphalt overlay program.

"We estimated spending about $76,000 for the asphalt overlay this year, so the amount of asphalt used for the parking is relatively small in comparison," said Dingman.

City Councilman Tony Brown, who has pushed for improvements at the pool, thinks Utility Director Bill Winegar and the city crew have done a great job.

"The pool project is coming along really well," said Brown. "I think that Jeff and Bill deserve all the credit for the improvements -- they have spearheaded all those improvements on the east side of the park which are quite significant.

"I'm delighted to see things coming together so quickly," he said. "I hope this is the beginning of many more park improvements that occur in the next few years."

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