George W. Davis

GREEN: A $5 million “Central Park” could be completed by late 2015 or early 2016, Mayor Dick Norton told the City Council.

Tony Slanec, director of planning and urban design for the architecture, engineering and design firm of OHM Advisors, showed the concept to Green residents and the council during a committee meeting Tuesday.

Plans call for the park to be on Town Park Boulevard in front of the Central Administration Building and stretch southward to Steese Road. It could be connected to the Veterans Memorial and John Torok Community Center.

The park would be built on more than 5 acres of city-owned land and would be designed with everyone in the community in mind, regardless of age or interests.

Norton said the cost is an early estimate, but he emphasized after the meeting that the park’s location is fixed and won’t be placed anywhere else. Some residents oppose the plan because of potential noise and traffic issues.

“There’s a reason it’s called ‘Central Park,’?” Norton said.

The park would consist of an amphitheater with lawn seating for 525 people, which could be expanded by another 200 onto adjoining green space; a farmers market and pavilion for year-round use; three splash pads for different age groups; a Century Garden, where those living at the nearby four-story senior housing center could plant flowers and gardens; and an enlarged, aerated pond with fishing decks and other amenities built out into the water.

There would be a concession stand and cafe area near the splash pads and playground that would include shade sails of durable netting to protect from the sun those sitting and watching the children play.

Norton said there is no start date yet, adding that “over the next few months, we will continue to gather feedback, and we are going to nail the plan down and then come to council for support and the money for design and engineering drawings.”

To fund the park, Norton said the city would go to the bond market, “take advantage of our credit rating” and issue short-term notes that would be paid off by council allocating $1 million annually from the Parks Division capital funding from income tax collections to pay off the debt.

City ordinance requires that 7 percent of income tax collections — about $1.2 million annually — be put into the parks’ capital improvement fund.

“Our current funding, plus the $625,000 sale of the Belden Lodge in Southgate Park, will completely pay for the existing projects we have on the books,” Norton said.

Ward 3 Councilman Ken Knodel said he wants residents’ input so it “becomes their park right from the get-go.”

Highpoint Drive resident Terry Walton opposed the location because of the noise and traffic experienced during the Memorial Day weekend’s Taste of Green and because of music and noise generated by patio music from the Legends Pub and Grille and Bulldog Stadium directly behind the Central Administration Building.

City resident Karl Kerstetter said he doesn’t oppose the park concept or location, “but I do oppose the amphitheater location and noise level.”

Some suggested locating the facility at Boettler Park, but that isn’t an option, Norton said.

The mayor said that before the end of this year he would like to see council approve the concept, then in nine to 12 months have construction plans complete.

“So I would hope we could get this bid and have this thing built by late 2015 and mid-2016,” Norton said.