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Parks commission waits for master plan to talk money

Parks commission waits for master plan to talk money

February 14th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in News

More than a year since the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department began pursuing a new parks master plan, the city's Parks and Recreation Commission expressed frustration they have not seen a draft yet.

The master plan will outline improvements to the city's park system over the next several years. To finance these improvements, city staff met with financial consultants Piper Jaffray and Company to discuss possibilities last summer.

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Parks Director Todd Spalding presented the commission with potential finance options for the improvements during Tuesday's meeting.

The main finance options suggested were special obligation bonds, which would require a dedicated source to pay the debt service. It would not require a public vote but would need the Jefferson City Council's approval.

According to a city memorandum, a $15 million project during a 20-year period would require more than $1 million annually for the debt service. A $20 million project would require approximately $1.4 million annually.

Spalding said at least $1 million from the half-percent parks sales tax could go toward that debt service.

In a city memorandum and memo, Jefferson City Financial Director Margie Mueller and City Administrator Steve Crowell expressed concerns for whether the Parks department could set aside those funds annually from the parks sales tax since it is currently used for everyday operations.

They added the proposed improvements in the parks master plan may cause an increase in operational costs.

The memorandum states there could be other financial options but they would still require a specific source to pay the debt service.

To make rational decisions regarding financing the proposed projects, commissioners said, they need to see a draft of the master plan.

"I think this is good data and good information, but I feel like we need to see the plan before we can talk about budget, before we can talk about financing," Commissioner Lindsey Rowden said.

When commissioners asked why they have not seen the master plan yet, Spalding said Warner Nease Bost Architects Inc., from Kansas City, was still finalizing some things. He added WNB Architects would discuss the master plan with the commission around March 5.

"It seems like every meeting we're told we'll see the master plan, and then it's like, 'Oh, we'll see it at the next meeting. Oh, we'll see it at the next meeting,'" Rowden said. "How can we ensure we'll see it by March 5?"

Spalding said he understood the commission's frustrations, promising they will receive master plan drafts next week to review.

"I'm as disappointed as you all are but I appreciate the patience and I know I'll have that for you," Spalding said.

Frog Hollow Greenway

Also on Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation Commission approved a $167,300 bid to connect the Frog Hollow Trail Greenway, adding about 800 feet to the trail. The connection would extend from the parking lot along Edgewood Drive with the trail running along Frog Hollow Road.

The project will begin this spring and could take about four months to complete.

The commission hopes to also extend the trail by approximately 2,000 feet and connect it at Creek Trail Drive with Edgewood Drive near the St. Mary's Health Urgent Care. A timeline for the project is not yet known.

If the Parks commission approves this second extension, the Frog Hollow Greenway would be an estimated 1.2 miles long.

The city is also working with Jefferson City Public Schools to possibly create a trail extending from Frog Hollow Grenway to the district's second high school on Mission Drive.

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The Linc MOU

The Parks and Recreation Commission tabled discussing changes to the memorandum of understanding regarding operations at The Linc, a joint wellness center between Lincoln University and the Parks department.

Lincoln University's Board of Curators approved the changes last week following a series of meetings between LU and city staff.

However, commissioners said they did not get the amended MOU until earlier this week and needed more time to review some of the proposed changes.

One MOU change limits "activities and outside rentals to programs that promote recreation and wellness."

Events like vendor fairs, concerts, trade shows and weddings would be discouraged to avoid blocking gym access, according to the MOU. Events unrelated to wellness initiatives must be approved by the Facility Advisory Committee.

The amended agreement states the committee includes LU's athletics director, wellness director and the executive director of Facilities and Planning, along with the city's Parks department director, assistant director and senior management analyst.

Other revisions include amendments to the naming and sponsorship rights, sponsorship pricing for major interior spaces in the facility and sharing costs for the fitness equipment.