Members of the parks advisory committee met May 23 and were updated on park usage, concessions, aquatic center opening and plans for the senior citizen renovation. The committee was formed in November, 2015, and meets the 4th Monday of each month in city council chambers. Meetings are open to the public. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee met May 23 and heard staff updates from Robert Sanchez, parks superintendent, and Matt McClure, recreation superintendent.
Sanchez distributed copies of the Parks Master Plan to committee members and encouraged them to become familiar with it.
Sanchez gave a brief history of the document. It was originally created in 2002 and last updated in 2009. The city’s recent growth and upcoming expansions necessitate a 2016 update.
Sanchez also said that the city is in the process of applying for a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant from the Mid America Regional Council. This grant will play an important role in providing financing for certain parks and recreation plans.
Sanchez informed members that the contractor for the renovation of the Senior Citizen Building has been selected and approved by city council.
At the May 16 meeting, the council authorized the city administrator to accept the $294,950 bid from RF Benchmark Construction and award them the renovation contract for the Gardner Senior Center, 128 E. Park.
The facility has about 500 rentals per year. While the facility is closed plans are for senior meals to be relocated to the Baptist Church. Total projected cost to the city is $192,630. That does include the new HVAC system, and is after the $200,000 JCCD grant is applied.
City employees will be removing items from the building this week that might be re-purposed for use elsewhere.
The contractor should begin renovation work the following week.
McClure updated members on the baseball tournament activities at Celebration Park.
Out of eight scheduled tournaments this year, only one has been lost due to rain. Last year, only one wasn’t rained out.
The city has been experimenting with expanding concessions at their events this year. A food truck was invited to offer concessions at last week’s tournaments.
McClure said feedback has been good.
McClure stated that 600 teams participated in a massive tournament recently in the KC metro area.
Thirty of those teams played at Celebration Park.
“I feel like if there are 650 teams in Kansas City, we can do better than thirty,” said McClure.
The Aquatic Center is scheduled to open on Saturday, May 28.
Sanchez said the rain and cooler weather had been keeping the water temperature down but with 80° temperatures forecast this week should help warm it up before Saturday.
Sanchez also informed committee that public works is finalizing a contractor agreement for replacement of low water crossing bridges within the parks trails system. This work should be completed sometime in the fall.