By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The Liberty Hill swim center development grew by a splash pad at the February Parks & Recreation Board meeting and is now on its way to the City Council for approval.
Following a presentation in January that proposed a pool and pool house without a splash pad, Brian Binkowski of Halff Associates was asked to bring back an amended plan with a splash pad.
The new plan, approved unanimously by the Parks Board Feb. 27, incorporated the initially approved shape of the pool with the splash pad on the east side.
“What we have are basically the same two concepts, the same pool configurations with the incorporation of the splash pad,” he said as he presented the new plans to the Board.
The splash pad is roughly 2,000 square feet at an estimated budget of about $150,000, breaking down to $63 per square foot for full recirculation system, according to Binkowski. The hope is that it will be incorporated with the pool system to create cost savings once final design and bids are approved.
“If you can work it in conjunction with the pool system that’s good,” he said.
The splash pad would not initially include shade, but it could be added at a later date. The Parks Board also discussed the possibility of adding a rubberized surface to the splash pad for additional safety, but it was cost prohibitive.
“That kind of system can get expensive,” Binkowski said. “It is poured in place on top of the concrete cost, adding about $8 per square foot to the cost.”
That type of surface would also add to the long-term maintenance and replacement costs as well.
The pool plan remains the same after the addition of the splash pad. It includes a roughly 1,300-square-foot open air pool house facility with restrooms, pavilion area and changing rooms. There would be no heating or air conditioning.
As plans were drawn up, the option was included to have restrooms and a potential vending area accessible year round for park users, even when the pool is closed.
The pool itself would be about 4,800 square feet, with a zero entry grade on one end and reaching a depth of five feet on the other. This allows children to play in the shallower end more easily, and creates greater ease of entrance for everyone.
Plans also include fencing, shade structures, landscaping and grass areas surrounding the pool deck.
A parking lot with approximately 60 spaces, along with an improved entrance on County Road 200 and the decomposed granite half-mile trail around the southern half of the park are also included. The original budget for the project was about $1.2 million.
Should the Council approve the plan, Bikowski said they should be able to move quickly on the design to be ready to go out for bids.
“We’ve done a lot of conceptual, preliminary design work on this, so I think the biggest hang up may be utilities. In the next couple of months we should be able to get a 100 percent set of plans and construction documents ready.”
The project will require a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality contributing zone plan, which is a 90-day process, but that will not prevent the City from moving ahead with the bid process.
Final bids, as well as news later in March on whether the City will receive either or both of the Texas Parks and Wildlife parks grants could effect the inclusion of the splash pad in the initial construction of the swim center. If, due to higher bids or tight funding, the splash pad is not included, it would be planned as an addition later on.
Cost estimates have been higher recently, with similar projects Binkowski has seen coming in at as much as $300 per square foot versus $200 per square foot as recently as a year ago.
“Within the last year we’ve seen a lot of increase in costs, especially in park development, because this is specialized type construction,” he said at the January presentation. “You’re having to mobilize different specialties to do certain things because there’s not a lot of buildings or big buildings.”
The grants are up to $500,000 for one and up to $75,000 for the second.
The new board, established to allow the community to leverage donated park land for matching grants, has an official name and board structure.
“This is a nonprofit that can hold properties and not be associated with a government agency,” said City Administrator Greg Boatright. “Acting as a holding agency, we can leverage these properties that come into the nonprofit with grants. If the city were to take possession of the property, then that property would become ineligible for those matching grants.”
The original appointed members met Tuesday to outline the structure of the group. Appointed members include Mayor Connie Fuller, Boatright, Parks Board Chair Mary Lyn Jones, Garrett Martin, and Janet Oliver.
Members elected Fuller as chair, Oliver as vice chair and Martin as secretary and treasurer. They also chose a new name – San Gabriel River Basin Parks Board – to avoid confusion between it and the Liberty Hill Development Foundation Board, which owns Lions Foundation Park. Terms will be three years, but initially Jones and Fuller will be appointed to two-year terms to establish staggered term lengths. The board will meet quarterly, with its first official meeting set for April 3.
The establishment of this board came on the heels of 53 acres being donated in Larkspur, between Larkspur Drive and the San Gabriel River.
To help move decisions on to the city council for approval in the future more efficiently, the Parks Board voted to shift its monthly meeting from the fourth Tuesday of the month to the third Tuesday of the month. The meeting time has also been moved to 6 p.m. from 6:30 p.m.