In a couple years, the city of Blue Springs will have to consider asking voters to renew the half-cent park sales tax they approved in April 2017.
The tax has provided or will provide for about $15 million worth of parks improvements across the city, though it didn't include Centennial Pool-Plex, of which the city transferred ownership to the Blue Springs School District earlier this year.
While the school district offers some public hours at Centennial – and now the former YMCA next to Blue Springs South High School that it operates – Parks and Recreation Director Dennis Dovel said there could still be a need for public aquatic facilities, particularly if Centennial does not last much longer. Furthermore, such a facility could be considered in requesting voters to continue the sales tax when it expires after September 2022.
On Monday, the Blue Springs City Council approved an aquatic facility and needs study for next year. The contract with SFS Architecture is for $104,214, and the company will gauge possible public support and need, what such a facility might look like and where it could be located in the city. The study will take about 6-8 months.
The city had asked voters for a half-cent park sales tax in 2013, designed to help fund a community center that included a pool, but the tax had no sunset and didn't get voter approval.
“We knew we would have to look at aquatics down the road,” Dovel said. “It's always been one of the top things listed as a priority in citizen surveys.”
While the public can use Centennial, which is surrounded by city-owned Baumgardner Park, Dovel knows it can't be considered long term.
For one, he said, the outdoor pool was set up more as a lap pool than for leisure, which as perhaps hindered attendance. Second, at 40 years old, it has natural maintenance issues, and the outdoor portion will either have to be closed or but shut down for a massive renovation. The district hasn't decided that yet.
“Either way, something will have to be done,” he said. “It's kind of past its life expectancy.”
Also Monday, the council approved:
• A contract for a new parking at the Blue Springs Fieldhouse, the former SportsCity building on Mock Avenue that the city purchased and renovated in 2015 and has been popular with citizens. The contract with Tandem Paving is for $306,615.
• A contract for nearly $1.065 million with McConnell & Associates for planned tennis and basketball court renovations at Wilbur Young Park, which is adjacent to Blue Springs South High Schools. In all, the Parks and Recreation Department has planned to make more than $3 million for renovations to that park, including new ballfield lights, the playground and shelter houses, as part of its master plan from the sales tax approved in 2017.
Dovel said the renovations will happen after the high school spring tennis season and will be finished in time for the fall season in August, barring an extreme amount of rain. The six tennis courts and one basketball court will remain at the same location, Dovel said.