The City of Fort Calhoun is moving forward on plans to build a park in the Adams Street Corridor area after hosting an open house Thursday which conceptualized spaces for music, reading, splashing water and other community activities.
The event was open to the public and offered attendees a chance to view master plans and hear about what will be in the park from city officials and park planners. Attendees were also able to write down comments and questions about the park on comment cards, which would be viewed by the city.
Plans for the park were created by JEO Consulting and environmentally responsible Omaha business Big Muddy Workshop after multiple meetings with city officials, city organizations and residents who gave input on what should be in the park.
"The committee really worked hard to make sure that the park is fitting some features that we don't already have within the city,"city engineer Lucas Billesbach said.
The park will include a reading area, an open space, a 100-square-foot stage with adjoining restrooms, splash pads, a covered picnic area, a gas fire pit and multiple areas for parking that also double as a farmers market. The Adams Street Corridor area runs between the Fort Calhoun Presbyterian Church and the Fort Calhoun Catholic Church from 13th to 12th streets where the old city maintenance building will be demolished. The park will run through that area then south along 12th street to Monroe Street.
The overall cost for the park is unknown because the entirety of the project will take multiple years, multiple phases and require monetary contributions from multiple sources. Those sources will include grants — the city recently applied to the Papio-Missouri Natural Resource District for a splash pad grant — personal donations and city funding through sales taxes.
"It's not like we're going to do all this in two years," Mayor Mitch Robinson said. "(Having the design) is so we know what's going to go where and it's a plan."
Though every phase of construction isn't set, the initial phase will center around two splash pads as several residents have expressed the want for them to the city.
John Royster, a landscape architect with Big Muddy Workshop, said many people requested two splash pads — one for older kids and one for younger kids. Billesbach said the splash pads, which include elements of covered wagons and buffalo heads, were designed to offer an aesthetic cohesion through the city and Fort Atkinson.
"We've been working as a city to have more cooperation with Fort Atkinson just shared activities, shared theming," Billesbach said. "So, trying to fit the splash pad into a similar idea of what can we draw upon for features that don't make it just an orange, yellow and green that you would see in any other town."
Billesbach also said the splash pad will be concrete, which won't be painted, but the lack of paint as a visual piece can be made up for with creative structural designs.
"With paint, inevitably, you're repainting it every year," he said.
The splash pads will also encourage conservative water practices and physical activity.
"The splash pads are all on timers as well. We try to reduce water usage by, you hit a button when you show up as a kid, there's a button on a pole, that kind of turns it on," Billesbach said. "The features run in a sequence, and they don't run at the same time. That's a water saving feature, but it's also actually kind of an interactivity measure because it keeps the kids moving, chasing things around the water park as different things turn on and other things turn off."
In addition to the splash pads and all of the other park features, the city is planning to have a bike trail run through the park. The bike trail is part of an ongoing effort to connect West Market Square Park on the west end of town to Fort Atkinson on the east. The city hopes to fund most of the $660,000 to $730,000 total cost of the bike trail through a Recreational Trails Program grant from Nebraska Game and Parks.
Billesbach said the total design of the park, with the bike trail included, should offer anyone who wants to use it a way to enjoy their favorite activities without disturbing anyone else's activities around them.
"That's why you see the stage where it's at in relation to the splash pad and also the farmer's market. You can envision several different uses occurring at the same time," he said.