Fort Calhoun children and residents could see a new splash pad by May 2021.
The Fort Calhoun City Council approved plans and specifications for a splash pad, toddler play area, shade shelter, landscaping, part of a concrete trail and infrastructure for the Adams Street Corridor park project during its meeting March 16.
City Engineer Lucas Billesbach of JEO Consulting said construction of infrastructure, such as sanitary utility work, based on the plans and specifications could be done this summer while construction on the splash pad, toddler play area, shade shelter, landscaping and trail could begin in September and finish by May 2021.
Billesbach said construction could be put out to bid together for contractors, but as two separate groups for construction purposes — infrastructure as one group and the aforementioned portions of the park as another.
"The reason we have done that … when we put together a final cost estimate, we're currently projecting a total cost of $675,000 where we started at $550,000," Billesbach said. "The majority of that increase is associated with most of the infrastructure. We did not anticipate having to lay new sanitary lines to catch the two churches, and the storm is a little larger than what I originally anticipated as well."
The splash pad, toddler play area, shade shelter and trail planned for construction will be on the corner of the park on 12th Street between the parking lot of Fort Calhoun Presbyterian Church and Schwertley Hall.
In November 2018, the city began the process to construct the park located near Adams, Monroe and 12th street. In addition to the parts of the park to be constructed with the splash pad, a fire place, parking along 12th Street, a stage, restrooms and reading garden will be constructed. Dates for construction of those parts of the park are not yet known.
"Those components are still out in the future," Billesbach said.
Billesbach said beginning construction of the splash pad in September will allow the city to enter another budget year and utilize this year's sales tax dollars, which the city uses for parks and tourism.
The city also received a $50,000 splash pad grant from the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District in 2019, and the Friends of the Fort Calhoun Splash Pad, a private fundraising group, raised nearly $110,000 through fundraisers.
In October, group member Liz Sevcik said the group is seeking matching funds through the Robert B. Daugherty Foundation. Billesbach said the city should know whether the foundation awards a grant for the project by September.
Billesbach also said engraved bricks the Friends of the Fort Calhoun Splash Pad sold while fundraising would be installed between the splash pad and trail near a control box.
"We want to make sure they're in an area where they can be seen, but not in an area that has a lot of movement and walking associated with so we don't have to sand and salt them in the winter," he said. "We just want to have the bricks last as long as we can. Right now they're shown as a pathway leading up to the control box."
Billesbach said a committee which he was working with for the design of the park was instrumental in deciding where to place the bricks as well as in deciding on what the shade structure would like and suggesting lights be installed in the floor of the splash pad.
Committee members are Mayor Mitch Robinson, council members Nick Schuler and Bob Prieksat, Fort Calhoun Park Board President Kris Richardson and community members Tessa Rutledge, Sunny Welchert, Mike Smith and Rance Johnson.
"You guys had a good public committee," Billesbach said. "They added really good input throughout the process. I would say even the features from where we were at conceptually to where we're at now, people dove in, they really laid out their opinions about what they would like to see."