GLASGOW – The mayor has signed an agreement with Brandstetter Carroll for the firm to create a detailed design for a proposed aquatic center at American Legion Park, said Eddie Furlong, director of the Glasgow Parks and Recreation Department.

The consulting firm that developed a parks-and-recreation master plan for the city has agreed to do it for $25,000, Furlong told the Glasgow Common Council Parks and Recreation Committee at its regular meeting Wednesday.

Besides Jake Dickinson, who was absent, all other members – Chasity Lowery, chair, Stacy Hammer, Freddie Norris, Patrick Gaunce and Marna Kirkpatrick – were present.

All except Dickinson and Hammer, who both chose not to run for another two-year term, were re-elected last week.

Furlong said that, realistically, because of the upcoming holidays, it would probably be early spring before the design is complete because work may not begin on it until early in the new year, and then it's expected to take roughly three months once it's started.

The discussion moved to generalities for bit.

Norris said they should try to ensure they aren't looking back in five years and thinking, “We should have done this [differently],” though the project is likely to evolve.

“Do what we can, but stretch it just a little bit, I would say,” Norris said.

“I think we are. I think we've all said this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime deal for us,” Furlong said, “and so we want to make sure we get it done right the first time. We don't want to corners where we don't need to, specifically, but at the same time if we can save costs on different things, we'll try to do that as well.”

Gaunce said that he would like to get the bonding in place sooner rather than later for the funds to actually build the aquatic center.

“I just want to know it's there, so we don't go through all this and then [there's a] vote against bonding it,” he said. “And secondly, interest rates are only going to go up over the next six months to 12 months, and every quarter-percent on $5 million is a lot of money.”

The council's finance committee met previously and discussed the possibility of a bond issue to fund the construction of the center, primarily, and perhaps some other items like upgrades for the other existing parks. The city treasurer and finance officer were to gather some figures for different options and report back to the committee said Lowery, who chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee but also is a member of the finance committee. That group's next regular meeting is slated for the day before Thanksgiving, so she wondered whether it would have a quorum that day and said she would ask about whether a special meeting may be needed.

She said she had no issue with being there next Wednesday, and Gaunce, who is also on the Finance Committee, said he didn't either.

The full council only has three more regularly scheduled meeting dates, and one of those is Christmas Eve so that one is expected to be cancelled.

Lowery said she should probably check with the city treasurer and finance officer to see whether they had the information for the meeting ready.

Furlong asked the Parks and Recreation Committee members what they expect to come from the Finance Committee meeting, “because I want to make sure I'm on the same page as you guys.”

Gaunce said his expectation was just to receive some interest percentage figures for different amounts of bond totals, and Lowery said essentially that that's what had been requested.

Gaunce added he would want to look at the bond period options as well.

“And I believe despite what may have been written [in a letter to the editor published by a different newspaper than the Glasgow Daily Times], we have discussed the downtown park, and the downtown park was discussed in closed session [before land was purchased],” Lowery said. “That's why at the finance meeting we asked about more money than $5 million [for the aquatic center], because we knew at some point we needed a park somewhere [in the downtown area], and those were kind of the first two things we were looking at. We had no idea where we were going to put a second park at that point, but we had discussed, kind of, what comes next.”

Furlong said the finance meeting was also where he pointed out that for another $1.5 million, the city could make the basic upgrades needed at other existing parks.

Lowery said she was trying to remember who made a comment at the other meeting about how it was easier to ask for a larger amount now “than to keep coming back over and over and over again. 'Sorry, I need another million.' And I even think Marlin [Witcher] talked about going between $5 million and $6 million, the payments ….”

Furlong said it was Gaunce who said that.

Gaunce said, “It just depends on where we want to take our community parkswise.”

Lowery said that, from the perspective of the Finance Committee, it had to look at how committing the funding would affect other city programs, too.

“We had to look to make sure that making this decision wasn't going to have an adverse effect on city employees and other city agencies,” she said.

Furlong reminded them of some other options that have been discussed to help with funding as well, such as offering naming rights of at least portions of parks, like a particular sports field, in exchange for contributions and applying for grants for at least portions of that.

Gaunce suggested putting a time window on any naming rights of no more than 25 years, and Furlong said he's known of some contracts that were five or 10 years, even. Gaunce said they also needed to establish some guidelines or plans for naming so they have some consistency.

Norris pointed out that it hadn't been long since an attempted renaming of South Green Elementary with the family name of a property donor, a plan that met with considerable opposition, partially because it was arranged as part of the property deal in closed session. Eventually, the family for whom the school was to be named conceded that part of the arrangement.

Gaunce said he thought that if it had been done “the right way,” it might have gone through.

Norris said they just needed to be careful.

Furlong, who had advocated to get a master plan done for years before it came to fruition, circled the conversation back.

“Like we said, to me, this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal for the parks system for Glasgow. We've got five city parks. I don't know if you guys are familiar with how old they are,” he said.

Furlong said Gorin Park was established in the 1950s, Twyman Park in the 60s, Weldon and American Legion parks in the 70s and Beaver Creek Park was built in 1998, he said.

“So, it's not like we do these things very often,” Furlong said.

There was also some general discussion about basketball youth leagues and the pros and cons of whether the department should oversee them.

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