O’Fallon IL moving forward on multiple improvements to city

Community Park improvements — including a new pool — renovations to the Katy Cavins Center and event space, are moving forward from wish list to reality in O’Fallon.

Andrew Dallner, director of parks and recreation, said interviews have been conducted with seven architectural firms to design and coordinate the project.

The next step is to begin negotiations with a selected firm, and the final candidate will be presented at the council’s parks and environment committee meeting Monday, Aug. 8.

The Community Park is located along U.S. Highway 50 and is home to the annual City Fest in August.

The major changes are expected within the next two years. The city pool will be totally rebuilt and enlarged. The current pool, built in 1959, has become inadequate and needs major work.

O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach said when the pool was built, the town’s population was only about 4,000. It is now over 30,000.

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

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

Replacing the community swimming pool, creating an all-inclusive playground, and adding community space for gatherings was part of the O’Fallon Parks Master Plan, along with more hiking and biking trails, completing the Family Sports Park, and putting new parks in underserved areas.

Last year, the park sought input from residents in an online survey, and at public meetings on ways to enhance the quality of life in the city and what they thought was needed.

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.

In an evaluation of conditions at the Cavins center, Quadrant Design staff members visited several times over a few months to photograph, measure, and note existing conditions. This was to assist the parks department to 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.

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.

Dallner said their Master Plan study found expectations for an outdoor aquatic facility had drastically changed over the past 60 years.

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Community Park improvements — including a new pool — renovations to the Katy Cavins Center and event space, are moving forward from wish list to reality in O’Fallon. The Community Park is located along U.S. Highway 50 and is home to the annual City Fest in August. BND file photo

More about pool

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 need 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.

Project could start in spring

Dallner said the department applied for a $400,000 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant the city would match and would cover the all-abilities playground and an access trail through the community park for accessibility.

The grant announcement is expected in July or August.

He estimated they could start the project next spring.

“If we do not get the OSLAD grant, we will still do the playground ($500,000) and then apply for the MEPRD park and trail grant. That grant is for $300,000 that we must match. We would then use that to complete the trail,” he said.

A new playground for children of all abilities

The All-Abilities Playground will provide space for children with special needs who do not compete in sports activities but need an area that will allow them to be active and play along with others, enjoying the outdoors.

The city is pledging $500,000 towards the All-Abilities Playground.

These playgrounds are a growing movement, but it’s not an easy plan to put into place, Dallner said, noting the facilities are costly, and include installation and labor.

More about playground

Waste Management has given $5,000 towards it.

“We can make it bigger and better if we get volunteers to help build the playground and/or donations from sponsors. Every dollar that we can save by using volunteer labor or from donations will be put into expanding the playground and making it better for the children,” Roach said.

At the parks committee meeting July 11, Dallner said his department is still evaluating manufacturers.

“The finalists are in the final design stage, and we are hoping to have a selected playground manufacture by the end of the month and to review at the August Parks and Environment meeting,” he said.

This story was originally published July 18, 2022 12:32 PM.