Pool pricing, and other park projects

Though it’s perhaps still too bitterly cold yet for people to begin strolling Minot’s parks, commissioners of the city’s Park Board met at the Roosevelt Park Zoo visitor center Tuesday evening for their monthly meeting to discuss their priorities for the upcoming year.

Plans for several largish projects were presented, with the board giving the go-ahead for planners to finalize their designs and figure final estimates. This includes improvements at Radio City Park, which will eventually get a splash pad similar in size to Oak Park’s, new basketball courts, playground equipment, and a real restroom. Parks director Ron Merritt was also given the board’s blessing to inquire into land acquisitions for several neighboring properties.

The concept for a south-facing amphitheatre at Oak Park is also coming together, with a 23,000 square foot “spectator area” hemmed in by tree line and able to accommodate an audience of 2,000 or 3,000 people. The plan put forward by Carter Myre, an architectural designer with Anderson Wade & Whitty, is roughly estimated at around $420,800, and would include materials, landscaping, utilities, and contingency funds. After debating different siting possibilities and material options, the board gave Myre permission to draw up a final plan so to move forward with the project.

A paving project at the Jack Hoeven Baseball Complex in Centennial Park was also brought up for consideration. All three projects will return to the board in their finalized forms over the coming months.

In addition, new public pool hours and fees were decided on for the 2014 year based on recommendations given by maintenance superintendent Brian Mathson, responding to feedback he received last year from the management at Roosevelt Park Pool. Rather than having a staggered, noon to 5 p.m., 6:30 to 8:30 day, he wanted to simplify hours to a noon until 7 schedule. This would make it easier to arrange shifts for lifeguards and attendants, which had been difficult under the old schedule.

His proposed changes would have also bumped daily admission from $3.25 to $5, and a season-long pass from $40 to $45, in addition to phasing out the $1 admission for the “kiddie pool” area. Pool staff have had trouble in the past with adults buying the discounted ticket, only to use the regular pool. Children ages 5 and under would still be allowed to swim for free.

After some discussion, most commissioners felt the proposed fee change was too high, and the seven o’clock closing time too early for working families. After a pair of amended motions they agreed to the proposed changes, with the hours instead going from noon to 8 p.m. and the regular admission at $4. Holders of a seasonal zoo pass could still get a season’s pool pass for $40.

And though the annual “Festival of the Parks” will not be held this year, commissioners also approved Merritt’s recommendation that the application to renew the organizing committee’s nonprofit status be filed. For a nominal fee and some paperwork, he explained the move would save time and money in future, should the event reorganize.

Commissioners also:

Allowed $7,500 allotted to replace the carpet at the Souris Valley Golf Course’s pro shop to be used instead for a vibratory roller for the course, which will improve the greens’ surfaces.

Expanded the park district’s current pool for random drug testing to include all employees, with the exception of administrative staff.

Approved a $25 charge for all organized runs and walks held at the public parks, unless the sponsor is a nonprofit organization.

Approved the month’s bills, totaling $444,764, plus salaries at $98,422.