VALPARAISO | The second phase of the transformation of Bicentennial Park begins this week with the parks department seeking quotes for installing drainage improvements at the park.
The makeover of the park started in 2012 with reconstruction of the adult softball field on the west side of the park into a youth and girls softball field. Sewer and electric lines also were laid in preparation for building a concession stand next to the field just south of the parking area. The existing restrooms will be moved to the concession building. Total cost of the first phase was $73,000.
The drainage work is estimated to cost $130,000 and will include bioswales and rain gardens and a drainage outlet extending across Campbell Street to a detention area to the west. Parks Director John Seibert said drainage problems have worsened as the area around the park has developed.
"It doesn't solve all the drainage problems we have now, but we will be able to tie in to the drainage improvements to be made on Burlington Beach Road in the future," Seibert said. "We are taking the water from where it is to where we want it to be, and it will not be in the traffic patterns."
The first phase was funded with money from the city budget. The second phase is getting $75,000 from the utilities board from the stormwater budget and $25,000 from the city. The remaining money will have to come from the parks budget or some other source, which is why Seibert said he's hoping the cost is less than the estimate.
Seibert said the goal is to get the work done in May so the park will be ready for the softball season. By that time a decision might also be made on the fate of the tennis courts at the park. Parks officials tentatively have planned to spend about $10,000 this year to make cosmetic improvements, such as painting the fence, but the board must decide whether to keep the courts or use the space for parking or something else.
Keeping the courts could mean paying $150,000 to rebuild them, an expense that could be hard to meet. The third phase of the park improvements, planned for 2014, already includes replacing the playground equipment, building the concession stand and restroom facilities and expanding and improving the parking area.
The final phase in 2015 calls for reconfiguring the east softball field and, if funding is available, adding the third field. A new picnic shelter area is planned along with hardscape paths to make it easier for people in wheelchairs or pushing strollers to reach all the park facilities.
"Our emphasis with limited money — safety has been the highest priority and accessibility and youth sports are second," Seibert said. "We can't fully fund these projects, so the reality is we have to do them in phases."