Burlington, News

City eyes Wagner Park improvements

City of Burlington officials are looking to upgrade amenities at Wagner Park through a resolution the Common Council plans to consider during an April 3 meeting (Jason Arndt/Southern Lakes Newspapers).

By Jason Arndt

Wagner Park in Burlington could see some improvements, including a new accessible restroom, under a proposal presented to the Common Council.

At Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting however, some Common Council members expressed hesitation about endorsing the $169,903 contract with Scherrer Construction.

City officials, who recommended approval of the project with the Burlington-based Scherrer Construction, also saw proposals from Glen Fern Construction ($170,289) and Ray Stadler Construction Co., Inc. ($179,585).

Thomas Preusker, of District 4 – acting in place absent Mayor Jeannie Hefty – shared skepticism about the upgrades because of the price tag along with colleagues Shad Branen from District 1 and Bill Smitz, of District 4.

Peter Riggs, director of public works, said Scherrer Construction plans to upgrade the city park with new amenities to create a welcoming environment for users.

“The existing Wagner Park restroom lacks accessibility, its condition is deteriorated, and it is uninviting for users of the park,” Riggs wrote in a memorandum. “In addition, the park lacks sidewalks along Chestnut and has no sidewalks connecting park features.”

Riggs said the project encompasses demolition of the existing restroom, replacing it with a new handicap accessible restroom, installation of sidewalks to close the gaps along Chestnut Street.

While the city initially planned to include the project in the Community Block Grant Program, which is funded through the state, officials decided to remove this portion from the plan, citing a need to prioritize funds for other projects in the program such as the Echo Lake Dam restoration project.

Although the funds will not come from CBDG program, city officials earmarked the project in 2024 capital improvement, using previously borrowed funds.

Riggs noted city officials have targeted Wagner Park for improvement in the last several years, indicating the city included the upgrades in the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, which had been approved by the Park Board before final approval from the Common Council.

Kapur and Associates, the city’s engineering consultant, reviewed and recommended approval of the contract with Scherrer Construction.

The city solicited and opened bids for the repair of Wagner Park earlier this year with three proposals coming to the city for review.

Some hesitation
Smitz asked about the restroom’s future if the Common Council does not approve the contract at its April 3 meeting.

Riggs said the city would likely pursue demolishing the structure following a possible rejection of the proposal.

Branen questioned if the city would see some savings on labor costs related to cleaning the restrooms, if the structure is not available.

Riggs said the city should expect some reductions in labor.

Tom Vos, of District 3, noted Wagner Park could see more traffic with the improved amenities.

“If we want Wagner Park to be used, we have to have better amenities,” Vos said.

Smitz said he is unsure if the park would experience increased usage after the upgrades.

City Administrator Carina Walters said she often travels near the park and notices routine activities.

“I have always seen kids there,” Walters said.

District 2 Alderperson Judi Adams said, as a parent, she would likely use parks with improved restrooms.

Preusker, in regard to costs, believes the $170,000 is too much for a restroom and should include other improvements such as shoreline stabilization, among other facets.

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