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City proposes to modernize park

The city of Vermillion is proposing a plan to modernize Prentis Park with new recreational facilities.

Among the biggest of the changes are a new aquatic facility, parking within the park and new recreational courts.

The proposed plans will cost the city approximately $6.5 million with roughly $500,000 budgeted for contingency due to the unknowns.

The pool in the plans that will be presented Monday is scaled down from original plans presented by a pool committee.

Paul Boerboom of the Sioux Falls-based architectural design firm TSP said the plans were just a concept and the final design will most likely change.

Boerboom presented two concept plans of how to efficiently use the space in Prentis Park.

“We just want to use the space more efficiently,” said Jim Goblirsch, Vermillion Parks and Recreation director.

Concept A and B contained two bodies of water for the aquatic facilities including a lap pool, zero depth area, water slides and a lazy river. It did not have a diving well or diving boards, as included in the previous pool concepts.

The plan in the concepts presented Monday would have a capacity for the pool of approximately 500 people, while the previous pool concept’s capacity was approximately 900.

Both plans also propose parking on the east side of the park and in one of the plans some spots on the west side. Currently, there is no parking inside Prentis Park.

“The big move is to bring in parking off Prentis Avenue and into the park,” Boerboom said.

City Council President Kent Osborne said in the meeting he was concerned about the plan’s lack of parking on the west side of the park along Plum Street.

Both plans include adding new basketball courts and a sand volleyball court and to rebuild the existing horseshoe pits.

“We want to provide recreation to the university students in the neighborhood,” Boerboom said.

The disk golf course would remain in the park, but would be realigned, Goblirsch said.

Both plans include relocating the community garden to the existing log cabin to provide storage space, a new maintenance building, a restoration of the amphitheater and sidewalks throughout the park.

“It is important to keep the community garden, but we propose moving it to the log cabin,” Boerboom said.

The main difference in concepts A and B is the parking lot configuration and playground.

In concept A, there would be 63 parking stalls and the playground structure would be relocated. In concept B, there would be 106 parking stalls, including 10 on the west side of the park, and the playground would remain in its original location.

Prentis Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places Nov. 8, 2001. Contributing factors including the caretaker’s house and two of the basketball courts will be demolished with the plan.

It is unclear if the National Park Service will remove Prentis Park from the National Register of Historic Places if the plan goes forward.

Boerboom said they are looking into it.

The horseshoe pits and amphitheater are also listed as contributing features, but will be restored.

The city council did not take any action on the presentation. Residents are encouraged to attend the public meeting at City Hall Nov. 25 to voice their opinions on the plans.