O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon committee expected to look at feasibility study on rec center Monday

The O’Fallon Parks and Environment Committee on Monday is expected to consider a feasibility study that will look at at the viability of building a recreation center at Family Sports Park.

The five-person aldermanic committee is expected to review Ballard King & Associates’ study at 5:30 p.m. in the O’Fallon Public Safety Building, according to committee chairman Ray Holden.

Last May, the city hired the Highlands Ranch, Colo. firm to complete the study.

Copies of the study will be released to the public once the meeting’s agenda is completed, Deputy City Clerk Maryanne Fair said on Tuesday.

According to state staute, the agenda must be completed at least 48 hours prior to the start of the meeting, she said.

Parks and Recreation Director Mary Jean Hutchinson declined to share a copy of the study earlier in the week, telling a Progress reporter the study was not available at that time because it was only in “draft form.” The final report, however, would be released to the public later in the week, she said.

Hutchinson said she has presented a copy of the study to City of O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham.

Graham said on Monday he received his copy on Friday of last week and has only glanced through the reports. From what he has read, Graham said it is a very positive study.

“It shows (building a recreation center) is something that should be done in the future,” he said.

City Administrator Walter Denton said the Ballard King’s study goes into the needs of the community, and includes feedback from the community on what services they’d like to see the rec center offer.

He finds it hard to believe any rec center (if one is built by the city) would impact the O’Fallon YMCA, which is actively considering a building campaign of its own as its facility is at capacity.

“They are quite successful,” he said.

The study also takes into account the ongoing construction of the McKendree Metro Rec Plex, which will include two ice rinks and an aquatic center.

“So, there are certain things we will not have to put in a center here because they are doing out there,” Denton said. “Which is all good because we don’t want to compete with people who are providing new services.”

Denton said if the city council approves building a rec center, it would not necessarily need to include an aquatic center to compete with the McKendree Metro Rec Plex, which plans to offer individual memberships.

Holden said it he is anxious to read Ballard King’s study because he has mixed feelings on the rec center, on whether it is needed or not.

“I want to see some definitive answers,” he said.

Ballard King’s study is just one of three parks consultants the city has hired for its parks since March.

Holden said if there is something definitive that comes from these studies, he thinks building the rec center “will be worthwhile.”

But, Holden said, he also wants to hear what the public thinks about building a recreation center before he makes his final decision.

“We’ll see what comes out of these studies,” he said.

Last May, Ward 4 Alderman Herb Roach, along with Ward 2 Alderman Robert Kueker, Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Hagarty, Ward 4 Alderman Matthew Smallheaer and Ward 6 Alderman Ned Drolet, voted against hiring Ballard and King., saying the time was not right in lieu of the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

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