No city council decision on parks master plan proposal
March 25, 2022
A proposal to develop a master plan for Hatfield Park and Bud Rose Park hit a snag in Monday’s Alva City Council meeting. It was proposed that Kimley-Horn, the same company commissioned to plan and design the Hatfield Aquatic Center, develop this plan which would include existing features and plans for the future.
Project Manager Darran Scott of Kimley-Horn outlined the scope of the project which would include public hearings, input from focus groups and online surveys to determine what residents would like to have in the parks. Disc golf was one of the possibilities mentioned. The plan would also include some projected costs and suggestions for grants to help pay for the park improvements.
Kimley-Horn’s bill for this master plan totaled $82,800. Of that amount $49,500 would be for the larger Hatfield Park, $26,500 for Bud Rose Park and $6,800 for 3-D computer visualization renderings (optional).
Councilmember Taylor Dowling commented it was “a lot of money to spend on a piece of paper.” He later expanded that to say it was “a lot to pay for a piece of art when we don’t necessarily know if we’ll like the art that comes out of it.”
Scott said he understood, “It’s a lot of money to spend on an idea that’s on a piece of paper.” He said it shows what people would like to see with dollars applied to it. “So when you’re applying for a grant you know what you’re really asking for.”
Councilman Daniel Winters expressed concern about the price tag of future plans for the park. “The community or us could sit and tell you all day long all these great things we would want, and then there’s what’s realistically in the budget,” he said. “I hate to see a plan come out of this that is not feasible.”
Scott said it was more about setting priorities. “It’s what you really want to have, and what is a secondary thing," he said. Each part of the plan would have a cost attached.
Mayor Kelly Parker said this was different than the pool where a few parts can be broken out but it is mainly a single entity. “You could probably strategically sequence things with either one of the parks than you could the pool,” he said.
Councilmember Sadie Bier asked when the fee was due. Would it be due immediately?
Scott said it is billed as work is done by a percentage of the total.
Winters asked when work would start, pointing out that the expense is not part of this year’s city budget. Scott said it would start soon. He explained that having the master plan for the parks, particularly Hatfield, would be beneficial to the application for the Land and Water grant for the swimming pool. It would show the city is engaged in long range planning.
“I think there’s a lot of community support for the development of the parks, we’ve all heard that,” said Winters. “I think the concern is where is that $82,800 coming from?”
“It’s not in this year’s budget,” said Mayor Parker. “If we approve this contract, we would be expected to approve it in our upcoming budget (the budget year begins July 1).”
Parker said a lot of conversations were needed in regard to the establishment of a Parks and Recreation Commission. There have been suggestions of combining the Alva Recreation Complex (ARC) with the swimming pool and parks under the oversight of one board or commission. The ARC is funded by a one-half cent sales tax. Combining the ARC with the other facilities would allow the pool and parks access to some of those sales tax funds.
Parker said this would allow the pool and parks expenses to be removed from the city’s general fund. “We’d probably have an obligation for a period of time that we need to take care of some of their issues, and maybe this is a way that we fulfill that obligation, and we have more of a clean transition,” Parker said. “I think the decisions that we ultimately make are the answer to ‘where does it come from?’ That question doesn’t have an answer at this time. We (gesturing to the full city council) need to figure that out.”
“I’m apprehensive of approving a contract we don’t know how we’re going to pay for,” said Winters. “I feel like we need to have those conversations before this is approved.”
Councilmember Randy Stelling said approving City Business Manager Angelica Brady to sign the contract didn’t mean she had to sign it immediately. He asked Scott to estimate when the first billing would be received if the project were started soon.
Scott said the first meetings would probably be in April so the first billing wouldn’t be until the end of May. He indicated the first bill could be delayed if the city needed that. He said ideally the master plans would be done about the same time as the plan for the pool, preferably before the grant application is done for the pool.
Winters asked what would happen if the contract was signed and the city didn’t have the funds. Scott said it could be delayed. “So basically, we just never say go,” said Winters and Scott agreed.
Councilmembers discussed this idea further and kept looking toward the city attorney to see if he was in agreement. Attorney Rick Cunningham said, “When you sign the contract – and I don’t know if there’s a provision in there, I didn’t see it – that says they don’t do any work until she (Brady) pulls the trigger, so if they do work they expect payment, and you have to have the ability to pay them.”
Winters again insisted, “I feel we need to have the discussion of where that $82,800 comes from before we sign the contract.”
“So when do we have that discussion?” asked Parker. “We’re all here.”
Councilmember Greg Bowman asked if the planning for Hatfield Park had to be done before applying for the pool grant.
Mayor Parker said no. But he added, “We need to have a well-planned out vision for anything we’re going to say is a priority. That needs to happen.” He said the planning for the parks would impact the score the city gets when Land and Water Conservation reviews the pool application. ”The more clearly we have defined a long-term plan … that’s just going to give them an idea on how our project has long-range benefits,” he said. “It would be great if we could approve this and get moving on it, and at some point I think we’re going to need to. If we don’t commit to long-term planning, we don’t need to put in the Land and Water Conservation Fund that we’re going to commit to long-term projects.”
“Like I said, I’m willing to commit to this,” said Winters. “But I feel that before we can commit to this, what money are we spending on it? We currently have no money to spend on it.”
There was discussion about splitting up the project with the Hatfield Park plan being done first and Bud Rose later since the Hatfield Park plan would more directly impact the pool application.
“This just approves the city manager to sign the agreement. It doesn’t say she has to sign it tomorrow,” said Stelling.
“The council action you’re asking is for her (city manager) to be authorized to sign it which is an engagement of this firm (Kimley-Horn) to conduct the work for $82,000,” said Cunningham. “You’re still talking about ‘how do you finance it’ which is the heart of this issue. You may want to have the finance committee look at it or you may want a special meeting with how you want to proceed whether it’s in parts or whatever. But once you authorize her, they (Kimley-Horn) have a contract that they’re authorized to engage for services. They’re not going to want to be derelict on that either.”
Scott said contracts are sometimes drawn up with each task as a separate approval by the city council.
Winters said he didn’t think they needed to approve each task, “but we don’t have an allocated dollar.”
Dowling made a motion to table the proposal and send it to the finance committee to determine funding options. Winters immediately seconded the motion.
Stelling asked if it would be ready for the next council meeting, and Parker said the more information council members provide to Brady, the more likely it will be ready.
Winters said, “I do believe we need to do this, and we need to get it done. I’m not comfortable approving something we don’t have funding for.”
Finance Committee Chairman Connor Martin said they’d need to have a special Finance meeting if this is ready for the April council meeting. “You’re welcome!” joked Winters.
The vote was unanimous in favor of tabling the matter.