Improvements to Athletic Park and the Chaska Community Center

With all of the school referendum talk the past couple of months, I haven’t had a chance to talk about a few of the things going on with our city’s Parks & Recreation area.  Last month, the Park Board looked at a couple of critical projects that will provide some real benefits to the community.

First, the Park Board (as well as the Planning Commission and City Council later in the month) signed off on plans to build a levy around Athletic Park at a maximum cost of $250,000.  The levy would have completely protected the facility from four of the last seven flood events, and minimized the damage and time the park was out of service in the other three events.  An average flood event costs the city about $30,000 for clean-up and repairs, so we can expect to make up the construction cost over time.  Additionally, the Public Works Department is seeking to lower construction costs by hoping to take advantage of fill made available by other development projects in the area (such as work at the West Ridge Corporate Center on Engler Boulevard), and they believe that the final construction cost number can come in significantly lower than the figure cited above.  The plan also allows for a trail to be constructed on top of the new berm.  This trail fits in with the city’s long-term plans to enhance Athletic Park and provide better connections to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land adjacent to the park.

Secondly, the city is preparing to move forward on some major maintenance projects at the Chaska Community Center.  The building’s core is now twenty years old, and as comes with buildings  that reach that age, it is time for some key elements of the building to be refreshed.   This spring, a new mechanical unit for the pool area will be installed at an estimated cost of $350,000.  Current plans call for the pool to be closed on April 30, re-opening on May 22.  This would be slightly longer than the pool’s usual yearly spring downtime.

The summer of 2013 will see new mechanical equipment installed in the two ice arenas.  This is necessitated by regulation changes surrounding the chemicals used in the current equipment (that make it cost-prohibitive to continue as-is).  Additionally, the equipment has outlived its expected life and is showing signs of its age, particularly in Rink 2.  The project will also improve the ventilation of the entire arena complex.  After the changes, it is expected that Rink 1 will remain ice all year, and Rink 2 will be transitioned to turf during the summer (the opposite of today) .  This is a $3 million project.

Finally, $775,000 is slated to be used for other capital improvements to the facility including:  roof repairs, pool deck repair, replacement of some wellness equipment, renovations to locker rooms in the arena, carpet replacement, and enhancements to the entryways.  These improvements will start next year, ending in 2014.

All of these Community Center projects will be financed by revenue bonds sold by the city and repaid through increased membership, daily-use, and ice rental fees.  Staff believes that they can finance these bonds while maintaining the Community Center’s competitive pricing position with peer facilities.  In my capacity on the Park Board, I will work to make sure that remains the case.


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