City Council Talks Parks & Lakes Projects

By Benjamin Cox on February 25, 2020 at 10:30am

The Jacksonville City Council met in quick fashion last night. Committee of the whole hashed out any questions prior to the official meeting at 7PM. Mayor Andy Ezard announced during committee of the whole that Parks & Lakes Director and City Planner Kelly Hall will officially retire in May.

During the meeting the council approved a 3 year contract with Central States Fireworks for $15,500 a year to continue to serve the community as the 4th of July Fireworks display provider. Mayor Ezard’s appointments to the Municipal Ambulance Commission and Commission on Disabilities and Human Relations were unanimously approved. The rezoning of the the property at 1691-1693 West Morton Avenue was approved for Business Commercial with Special Use for an Auto Body Repair shop being built. In public protection, the council approved the purchase of 28 sets of Lion Turnout Gear for the fire department for their everyday-use uniforms.

Parks & Lakes had the biggest action on the evening as Parks & Lakes Committee Chairman Lori Large-Oldenettel says that $25,000 worth of renovations have been green lit for Veterans Park. Oldenettel explained that the park needed to be made more accessible. “It sounds like the consensus from the committee is that we want to break down the renovations into 3 different priority areas. The first one will be to spend $25,000 for sidewalks. Then, the next phase would be the parking lots, and the third phase would be to update the tennis courts. That’s the direction we gave the engineer this evening and we will wait for more information to come.”

The engineer from Hutchison noted that the park has many old water mains running to the park because of the water tower at the center of the park. He asked the committee to consider possible removal of those mains before construction of sidewalks to begin. Oldenettel said that conversations are already taking place with Superintendent Rick Hearin about how to combat any future problems with the water mains before construction of the sidewalks begin.

Oldenettel said that the Parks & Lakes Committee will also be reapplying for one grant this year to complete the trail at the lake with a bridge over the dam. She said that the committee gave approval for the boat dock project at Lake Mauvaisterre to begin moving forward. “The boat access grant was 100% funded. It’s a $200,000 grant that the city would get free and clear. Anything above and beyond that would be on the city to pay. In the end, what we decided on was that the committee would like the engineer to continue moving forward and pull the engineering fees out of the costs so the process can begin. Then, we hope the engineers can put some solid numbers on bids for materials and construction together based upon our suggestions of not wanting to go over the $200,000. Perhaps when the bids come in, they will be less than what we anticipate and everything will even out. For now, we’ve pulled the engineering fees out, which the engineer said was 15% of the cost.”

The public pool, the Nichols Park Pavillion and the Nichols Park Roller Hockey rink are also projects that the committee is also currently trying to find money for in the future. The next Jacksonville City Council meeting will come on March 9th.