To bring City Park up to the standards where it should be would cost $1 million to $2 million. That’s what Parker Public Works Director Steve Ziegler said he was told in 2017 when he made inquiries about upgrading the park.
Ziegler said it would likely cost even more if one counts inflation since 2017.
City Park is located in the southwest corner of the Parker townsite on land leased from the Colorado River Indian Tribes. The park contains ballfields used by Parker Little League, along with tennis courts, a playground, and the town’s skate park.
Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer said it costs the Town over $70,000 per year to operate the park. That doesn’t include costs for insurance and repairs due to vandalism.
Community Development Director Nora Yackley and Ziegler said the restrooms at City Park were damaged by vandals earlier this year, and they now have to use portable restroom facilities.
The skate park is of particular concern due to its deterioration and the liability issues involved. The park was built some years ago in a project led by resident Rudy Buckelew. Since then, the concrete has deteriorated and the facility is showing its age.
Zeigler told the Pioneer he’d spoken with a contractor about restoring the concrete, and he was given an estimate of $100,000. However, the contractor did not recommend restoring the concrete.
“He said we’d be throwing our money away,” Ziegler said. “He said the best option was to demolish it and start over.”
A new skate park of the same size would cost $200,000 to $500,000, Ziegler said.
At the May 4 Town Council meeting, the council rejected a proposal to cancel the Town’s lease with the CRIT for the park while Little League’s season is underway. One of the proposals is to use the money that is now being spent on City Park to pay for operations for a new Town swimming pool. The Town hasn’t had a public pool since the summer of 2003.
Wedemeyer noted the Town has a Little League ballfield in Aaron Hill Field at Western Park. This field was built by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Public Service. She said the Town has been setting aside funds each year towards the cost of building a new pool. At the end of fiscal year 2019-20, the last year for which full figures are available, there was $242,298.59 in that fund.
The old pool was located in one half of Pop Harvey Park. Built in 1979, it was closed after the 2003 season because it had deteriorated to the point of where it was unsafe to use. The pool was leaking and needed extensive repairs.
The Town applied for and was approved for a state grant to build a new, smaller pool in 2008. However, these funds were taken back by the state due to the financial crisis in fall of that year. Citing liability issues, the pool was demolished in 2009.
If the Town builds a new pool, Wedemeyer said it would only be half the size of the old pool, which was Olympic-sized. It would compliment the “splash pad,” which was installed on one end of where the old pool was. With a much smaller pool, Wedemeyer said the operating costs could be paid for from the money currently being used for City Park.
Wedemeyer said canceling the lease and using the money for a pool was a subject that often came up at the councils’ retreats. She decided to bring it forward as an action item in a regular council meeting.
Since the 2003 closure of the pool, the Town has used commercial motel pools for the summer swim program. They used the pool at the Kofa Inn for many years, but they will be using the Best Western pool this year. The Kofa Inn is a CRIT enterprise.
During the years it was open, it’s estimated more than 10,000 area young people learned to swim at the old pool.