Collierville officials narrowing park plan; big-ticket items may remain on wish list

Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), 2014-04-14

April 14 --Now that a 10-year park system master plan is finished, Collierville park and town officials want to narrow down what is doable in the coming years.

While some residents want such amenities as an aquatic facility, a performing arts center like Germantown and Bartlett , a pedestrian bridge connecting the greenway over the Wolf River or a second community center, such big ticket items may remain on the wish list.

Less costly items may find more traction such as adding more greenways, installing more synthetic turf fields, updating aging park facilities and addressing access to parks and playgrounds with new requirements from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"As always, this is a guide. It is not set in concrete," Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Chip Petersen reminded the Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently during a work session.

"A lot of this stuff competes with private businesses," Petersen said. "Our aquatic center is called a spray park." He pointed to the YMCA at Schilling Farms , Life Time Fitness and Omni Health and Fitness which all have indoor or outdoor pool facilities.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen pulled the report from Monday night's agenda so that the Parks Advisory Board could weigh in on the recommendations first. Last week, the parks board punted the report to a four-member subcommittee.

Over the next month or so, that subcommittee will study the document written by Lose & Associates of Nashville . The town hired them last fall to update its park master plan with staff and community input.

If all of the plan's proposals were approved, it would cost $52.5 million and require floating a $30 million bond issue, setting daily or annual user fees, earmarking a portion of local hotel taxes or creating new rental or packaged food taxes.

"I don't believe we could get the support for a $30 million bond issue," said Vice Mayor Maureen Fraser , who sits on the Parks Advisory Board and is on the master plan subcommittee. "I understand that people want the amenities but they wouldn't support a property tax increase to pay for it."

Fraser described some items like a banquet or reception facility as a "dream wish list that is not practical or reasonable at this time. My fear is if we publish it or adopt it as it as written, people are going to think we're going to float a $30 million bond for a reception facility, an aquatic center and a second community center."

A connecting pedestrian bridge from W.C. Johnson Park to the Wolf River Greenway Trail also would be nice but Fraser rhetorically asked, "Is it a priority with schools and everything else that is going on?"

The process of narrowing down the plan's list won't be easy said subcommittee member Campbell Hawkins .

Chuck Lesnick , the subcommittee chairman, said the group will review the public comments and balance that against the town's demographics and fiscal responsibilities.

"This will be our road map over the next 10 years," Lesnick said. "We've got to separate personal preferences to what is doable and what are the demands. Are they truly community needs?"


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