Input sought on wellness park concept

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


While the basic design of the proposed Wellness Park to be constructed on 46 acres along Fifth Street and North D Avenue is complete, builders still want input from the people of Washington on the amenities to be constructed into the park.

During a public meeting Monday evening in the Washington Public Library, MSA developers, who are working with the city to design the park, gave a presentation on the portion of the park designed so far. They also encouraged people to take a survey on a new website set up for the project. The nine-question survey can be found on the internet at The site also will include the progress of the wellness park.

?That?s what we are here for,? project planner Shawn O?Shea said to the 30-person audience. ?Is this a good concept going forward? Are there things missing? Do you have any comments or suggestions??

Members of the wellness park committee spoke of tours they had done of four communities with similar parks, saying the idea was to find out what has worked in other communities and what hasn?t.

O?Shea said there is no schedule of phases for the project, nor is there a cost estimate at this point. He said these are issues that will be determined after input is gathered and a design that will move ahead is created. Washington parks superintendent Nick Pacha said that when the park is completed, the parks department will have to hire additional people to man the park. Many comments from the audience indicated that keeping a park of this kind looking nice is almost a full-time job.

The schedule indicates from here, another committee meeting to refine the draft using public comments will be held later this month. The design is anticipated to be complete in December.

Bid opening for one phase is expected in April 2018 and bid letting is expected in May 2018.

O?Shea said he hopes the first phase can be complete by this time next year.

In June, the Washington City Council approved the $158,000 engineering proposal from MSA Professional Services of Ankeny to design and aid in construction of the city?s Wellness Park.

In December 2016, the council had indicated it wanted to move ahead with the project and leave $1 million in this year?s budget to be spent on the park.

The city sold about 5 acres of land on the proposed Wellness Park to the Y to be used for the construction of a new building. After the failure of a bond referendum to help fund the building, the YMCA announced in May it plans to collect funding for a new $9 million facility to be constructed at West Fifth Street and North D Avenue as well as future expansions. The Washington City Council also approved partnering with the YMCA of Washington County to seek a mutual grant from Enhance Iowa to benefit both the Y?s building project and the construction of the proposed Wellness Park.