Parks Director Mike Svetz makes his presentation to City Council


The

Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department

has gotten permission from City Council to reallocate money from its Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to make sure that the new Smith pool opens on time.  The reallocation of $700,000 means that implementation of improvements to other parks may be delayed. Council gave its consent to the request at its meeting on October 6, 2008.


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Mike Svetz, the City’s Director of Parks and Recreation, said the reallocations are necessary due to the “financial realities” that the City faces. “We want to make sure that the projects we’re bringing forward are the best possible projects that we can make, best possible projects that we can create, because they’re going to be around for [decades],” Svetz said.

Specifically, $700,000 will be reprogrammed from the FY2010 and FY2012 to pay for additional enhancements at Smith Pool. There will be no changes to the Onesty Pool at Meade Park, which Svetz said was on time for completion by June 2009. The reallocation will mean the implementation of the master plans for Rives, Forest Hills and Azalea parks could be delayed. The master plan for Azalea Park has not been finished, but Svetz said it would be completed.

Svetz said the City will defer a decision on when to implement the plans until Governor Tim Kaine releases an updated budget forecast. City Manager Gary O’Connell said the City is getting “more and more concerned” about the impact budget cuts will have on the CIP, and that slowing park projects is one way to help address the issue.

Smith Pool will now feature two pools, rather than one. One will be a warm-water pool whereas the other will be a six-lane competitive pool. Additional enhancements also call for a viewing deck on the second level. That will be possible because the Parks and Recreation Department will no longer move administration offices into the facility.  Smith Pool will also now feature a “geothermal well system” in order to bring down heating costs.

“By going geothermal we will save $45,000 to $60,000 a year,” Svetz said. A similar system is in place in the Downtown Transit Center. The new Smith Pool is expected to be completed by the fall of 2010.

Forest Hills Park was scheduled to go to bid in November, with construction of a spray-ground to replace the aging wading pool, as well as new playground features.

Svetz said one reason why the City is revisiting the park is to replace the wading pool, which he said used 1.3 million gallons of water in FY2008. In comparison, the much larger pool at Washington Park used 800,000 gallons of water in the same period. If the City does choose to not move forward with the Forest Hills renovations, Svetz said it is likely the wading pool will not be opened for next summer.

Mayor

Dave Norris

applauded O’Connell and Svetz for taking this “hard look across the board at capital expenditures” given the financial crisis. Councilor

David Brown

approved of the new design for Smith pool, but called for a review of the design next year during the budget process.

Sean Tubbs

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