Plans for $1-2 million park in Lincoln unveiled

Posted: January 31, 2012 at 6:19 am

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Mayor Keith Synder has unveiled a concept plan that would establish a new option for recreation, vitalization and wellness in Lincoln — and it's not your average park.

The APEX at City Center project, with a pricetag of $1 million to $2 million, would feature fitness trails, exercise stations, a lookout mound, a multipurpose activity area and a terraced performance area.

The plan, discussed at a public meeting held at the Lincoln Park District office last week, was created by a steering committee charged with the task of deciding what to do with a parcel of land on Eighth Street that was given to the city by Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in 2011.

Snyder said the plan pays homage to the hospital’s overall mission. “For the last 100 years, that space has been used as a place of healing and wellness in the city. I think it just makes sense to continue with that purpose,” said Snyder adding that data reveals the city of Lincoln scoresabove the state and national average in instances of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

“With this information, we would like to reverse some of those numbers,” said Snyder.

He also told the group of nearly 25 people who attended Thursday night’s meeting that the concept would also be a good selling point to young families who are looking to relocate to Lincoln.

“We want to win the quality of life race and make our city more attractive to relocate to,” said Snyder.

The big idea
Kent Massie, of Massie, Massie and Associates of Springfield, gave a PowerPoint presentation showing the dimensions of the land and potential purposes that could be utilized in the space. Massie referenced ideas submitted by the steering committee over the last three months.

“The group first had to establish a name that encouraged movement and activity, was attractive, unique and offered a clean environment. They also wanted it to be accessible to all users and include sustainable features with aesthetic qualities,” said Massie.

They chose APEX (Area for Personal Enrichment and Exercise).

The APEX at City Center project would feature fitness trails, exercise stations, a lookout mound, a multipurpose activity area and a terraced performance area. He said the committee refined the concept at the Jan. 5 meeting coming up with the graphic for the area and creating a rough budget.

Neil Brumleve, a colleague of Massie, gave more details on the four areas and provided photographs of examples in other cities, indicating how the project might look.

“The fitness area offers a 1/5 of a mile, 8-foot-wide track that is a loop trail. We plan to have a bridge that crosses underneath the trail. There will be a clock tower at the main access point and several rest areas that have benches for seating,” said Brumleve. He said exercise stations would be a focal point along Eighth Street. Moving to the south end of the APEX at City Center, Brumleve said plans were to create an 80-foot-in-diameter splash bowl and skate loop area. On the north side, there are plans are for an amphitheatre that seats 250 people with hopes of holding movies in the park.

What’s next
Brumleve ended the presentation of the new area and let Lisa Kramer, of Prairie Engineers of Illinois, tell what steps would happen next.

“Our next plan is to present this to city council at the Feb. 28 meeting, and tonight we are seeking additional public input,” said Kramer.

“After it is approved at city council, then we would begin to look at different funding sources at both the state and federal level. There is also money at different foundations and we are trying to get as much grant money as possible to fund this,” said Kramer.

One spectator at the meeting asked Kramer what the project would cost.
“It is in the $1-2 million range, but it depends on cost of material and volunteer labor. I anticipate that this will be a project in phases and it will happen when the money becomes available,” replied Massie.

Massie put up black and white drawings for the public view and make notes on.

Ray Payne, who spoke at the initial public meeting in October, questioned the group on why the city doesn’t sell the land to get a better return on investment.

“If we sell the lots in a reasonable price range, the city will get real estate money coming in. I’m sure this could pay for a lot of Lincoln’s bills,” said Payne.

He also argued that the city already has too many parks and asked if this could be put on the ballot for taxpayers to vote on an issue regarding the project.

Snyder reminded Payne that he could voice his concerns to his alderman. Committee member Bill Gossett spoke up and said he felt Lincoln doesn’t have a need for additional housing and offered his support for the project.

Other notes
The issue of parking was presented and Massie said parking was available on Seventh, Pine and Walnut streets.

Andy Anderson asked if other cities the same size of Lincoln have this concept in place.

“Bits and pieces. I’m referring to this as a park in motion and staying away from the traditional park idea,” said Massie.

Ron Tomczak lent his support for the project and shared with the group his experience in the Chicago area of seeing something like this work.

“People were there and it was unbelievable how the park revitalized the area,” said Tomczak.

Mike Maniscalco of the Lincoln and Logan County Development Partnership said he thought the project could be easily funded and has potential to help him with bringing business to Lincoln.

“As a person who talks to people and asks them to invest in our community, this only make it easier,” said Maniscalco.

During the meeting, Snyder thanked the Woods Foundation for their generosity in underwriting the funding of creating the concept plan. He introduced members of the steering committee which includes: Njeri Bere, Wayne Cox, Bill and Jean Gossett, Marcia Greenslate, Kathy Horm, Candy Letterly, Roy Logan, Todd and Tate Mouning, Bill and Kathy Vinyard and himself.

The mayor told the group in order to honor the land that was given to the city it should continue to provide a place to find health.

Snyder asked for additional input from the public by either contacting Kathy Vinyard at the City of Lincoln at 732-6318 or Lisa Kramer at 651-8017 or Neil Brumleve at 544-3210.

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Plans for $1-2 million park in Lincoln unveiled

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January 31st, 2012 at 6:19 am