HAMMOND — The city is considering making some major renovations to Hessville Park, which could include the elimination of the pool in favor of a different water feature.
Hessville Park, 7299 Kennedy Ave., is home to one of the four outdoor pools the city kept closed during the summer this year. The administration cited safety concerns and costs, and is weighing whether to re-open any next year.
In the meantime, a petition to re-open the pool in Pulaski Park garnered nearly 600 signatures by early September. Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, also has indicated there is great interest in keeping the pool at Martin Luther King Park open.
The city administration announced in May that it would not open the four pools this past summer and that they needed hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. At that time, it was estimated the Pulaski, Edison and Hessville pools would need about $700,000 in repairs each, while the Martin Luther King pool would need about $900,000 in repairs.
Last month, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said he thought those numbers were only for emergency repairs, and the actual cost to get all four pools in full compliance would be more than $5 million.
Chief of Staff Phil Taillon said the city is currently in the master planning phase for the parks and have not yet narrowed down exactly what improvements will be made to them.
A NEW PLAN
At Monday's Mayors Night Out event, McDermott and Park and Recreation Administrator Mark Heintz unveiled one proposal for Hessville Park, which would replace the pool with an interactive water feature.
McDermott and Heintz emphasized the plan was just a proposal and they were seeking the community's input on how to proceed with the 14.2-acre park.
Heintz said the interactive water fountains are starting to be seen throughout the country and is something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
McDermott said he thought such a feature would get more usage and not require the staffing needed with a pool. He also noted the relatively short time that pools are open in the north compared to the expense of maintaining them.
The replacement of the pool with an interactive water feature was just one of the potential improvements that could be made at the park. A walking path circling the park is being considered as well as an updated and expanded skate park area.
Walking paths have been well-received elsewhere, Heintz said, and the skate park area has been quite successful at Hessville Park.
Additional parking could be added, including where tennis courts are currently located, and the playground area may be upgraded with a softer, neater surface than the current wood chips. There are also plans for improved drainage to get rid of the standing water that now impacts a ball field.