Mayor of O’Fallon IL to host town hall meeting in October

Shaping the future of O’Fallon’s Community Park is a major part of the city’s plans over the next two years. A new all-abilities playground, adding trails and bike paths, rebuilding and enlarging the swimming pool and event space are significant changes in the works.

Residents will have an opportunity to discuss the planned improvements during the mayor’s next town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at City Hall.

Mayor Herb Roach said this is an opportunity for citizens to hear firsthand about the projects, get questions answered and give feedback before any construction takes place.

The projects are part of the Parks Master Plan, which was unveiled earlier this year. Tax dollars in the budget and grant funding are expected.

The Community Park is located along U.S. Highway 50 and is home to the annual City Fest in August. When the pool was built in 1959, the town’s population was about 4,000. Now, it is over 30,000.

Previously, the council approved a contract with FGMA to develop the concept design for the Community Park Enhancement Project.

Andrew Dallner, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said part of that process is community engagement with major stakeholders and residents, so meetings will take place over the next few weeks with O’Fallon School District 90, O’Fallon Township High School, City Fest, the Breakers swim team, and the Seahawks Swim Club.

Dallner said it’s important to listen to residents and plan for the growth and future needs of the city.

“It is about providing the amenities that they want,” he said.

Last year, the ideas to enhance the quality of life in the city were expressed when the park sought input from residents in an online survey and at public meetings, in preparation for the master plan.

Dallner said Family Sports Park, the Community Park and Rock Springs Park have the heaviest usage among the city’s 11 parks.

Community Memorial Swimming Pool Needs

Built in 1959, the pool has become inadequate. Today’s expectations for an outdoor aquatic facility have drastically changed over the past 60 years, the O’Fallon study found.

A prepared report by Planning Design Studio stated recreational water has taken a more freeform shape as opposed to the traditional rectangular pools of the 1960s. It’s common for these pools to have multiple zones that include a zero-beach entry, waterslide plunge areas, moving water such as a current channel or lazy river, inflatable crossing activities and deep-water amenities such as climbing walls, drop slides and diving boards or platforms.

With the upgrades, adults can enjoy the experience and closely monitor their children, the report said.

The pool also has physical issues that need to be repaired. In addition, the two sets of exit stairs are not ADA compliant and needs to be accessible with a ramp or handrails to be easily manageable for all pool users.

Upgrades to restrooms are also needed, as are locker rooms with amenities.

Fundraising for All-Abilities Playground

A new accessible playground that exceeds ADA regulations will replace the aging playground in Community Park. It will allow people of all abilities and development stages to play together.

“An inclusive playground removes barriers between kids, despite any differences, and gives them areas that will allow them to be active, laugh and play, and enjoy some outside activities,” Roach said.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2023.

Dallner said playgrounds where children with special needs can play along with others has been a growing movement, but it’s not an easy plan to put into place because of costs.

Most of the costs will be taken care of through the Build O’Fallon Trust Fund. However, the city is providing opportunities to contribute to the project.

“Any donations of time or money will go to improve and add additional features to the playground. Donors will have an opportunity to have their names permanently be part of the project and volunteers will have an opportunity to help us build it in spring 2023,” Roach said.

Sponsorship, donation, and volunteer opportunities are now available. Those interested in getting involved in the project are encouraged to go to www.ofallongives.com.

There are three options to give towards the project. Anyone can make a financial contribution, sign up to volunteer to help construct the playground, and for those sponsors wishing to make a larger contribution, entire playground features can be sponsored.

“I am so pleased by the positive responses that we have received on the new All-Abilities Playground. Many of our citizens, businesses, and organizations have already expressed their willingness to help with the construction and/ or make donations toward it,” Roach said.

To date, the Metro Alliance Football Club has donated $5,000, Waste Management gave $5,000 and the O’Fallon Parks and Recreation Foundation contributed $7,500.

For questions about the playground or sponsorship opportunities, contact Pearl Gipson, O’Fallon Parks & Recreation, at [email protected] or 618-624-0139.

Katy Cavins Community Center

In an evaluation of conditions at the Cavins center, Quadrant Design noted existing conditions to assist the parks department prepare for short and long-term maintenance and identify concerns regarding life-safety, accessibility, energy efficiency, building code related items, and other potential building operation items.

Immediate needs within the next year included the replacement of the accessibility ramp and the installation of a fire sprinkler system.

Dallner said the Katy Cavins Community Center is limited size-wise for events of more than 100-plus people.

“In our surveys, people said they want a bigger place to get together. They like to get together. It’s something that’s needed,” he said.

Event space near the pool — known as Festival Plaza — will feature a bandstand and shaded cloth canopies.

OSLAD Grant

For the Parks and Recreation Department to apply for an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant to help fund the new pool, the guidelines included a resolution of support from the city council. That action took place at the O’Fallon City Council meeting Monday, Sept. 19.

The maximum grant amount available is $600,000. The total project for the Community Park enhancements is expected to be around $8 million.

MEPRD Grant

The Metro East Park and Recreation District — which covers Madison and St. Clair counties — has been developing local trails as part of their Greenway Systems Plan.

In the Parks Master Plan, a series of trail improvements for bicycle usage was identified.

Dallner said they will be building a 10 foot wide multi-use path around the Community Park. A grant from the MEPRD was received.

“This will be a connector trail for future trails throughout the community,” he said.

New lighted walking paths that will wind through the park will be developed. Those will provide more safety for people desiring a place to walk.

Parks Master Plan 2022

Replacing the community swimming pool, creating an all-inclusive playground, adding community space for gatherings, more hiking and biking trails, completing the Family Sports Park, and putting new parks in underserved areas were among the improvements highlighted in the O’Fallon Parks Master Plan unveiled in January.

Making the transition from wish list to reality is the goal, Dallner said.

Some of the projects are among those in the Capital Improvement Plan for 2023-2027, but will not happen unless funding is secured, and, in some cases, grant money is available.

At a previous meeting, City Administrator Walter Denton had presented the poll findings for the Build O’Fallon Trust Fund priority rankings. According to the fund guidelines, the city would have $1 million in projects for FY23, to be spent at the council’s discretion. The top two were the pool design and the all-abilities playground.

The $6.1 million in capital improvements includes Pool/Katy Cavins Center study for $900,000 and the All-Abilities Playground/Trail project for $1 million.

Coming Up at Family Sports Park

The council has approved naming two pavilions at the Family Sports Park in honor of former aldermen Kevin Hagarty and Dan Witt, who died earlier this year while serving on the council. They were both huge boosters of the parks and longtime volunteers.

The city is amid purchasing the boulders and the plaques, Dallner said.

“We will also purchase a new pavilion sign,” he said.

A 500-space parking lot at the Family Sports Park is identified for 2023, and things like an equipment storage shed, and genuine upkeep are also included in the master plan.

landscape structures.jpg
Shaping the future of O’Fallon’s Community Park is a major part of the city’s plans over the next two years. A new all-abilities playground, adding trails and bike paths, rebuilding and enlarging the swimming pool, event space and are significant changes in the works. Residents will have an opportunity to discuss the planned improvements during the mayor’s next town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at O’Fallon City Hall. Provided

Head Shot A. Dallner.jpg
Pictured is Andrew Dallner, director of the Parks and Recreation Department in O’Fallon. Provided

This story was originally published September 20, 2022 1:11 PM.

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