Platte City parks hoping to prioritize potential projects

The Platte City Parks and Recreation Board wants to make a long-range plan to address needs and financing for potential large projects.

During its Monday, Jan. 9 meeting, the appointed officials discussed the possibility of a new pool facility and/or community center but could offer many details. The parks department doesn’t have the finances to pay cash or borrow enough money for either but could work with the City of Platte City to bring the projects to fruition.

The board expressed a desire to poll the community again with a survey in addition to the likelihood of bringing in Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt to an upcoming meeting to discuss financing mechanisms.

“As a board, we need to decide what we want to tackle first,” parks board chairman John Kurtz said.

With six members present, most seemed to favor the idea of a new pool facility in Platte City.
The old Platte City public pool located off of Fourth Street in downtown Platte City closed after the summer of 2015 due to cost of upkeep of an aging facility. The parks board heard presentations from two architectural firms over the summer on potential projects, and the cost would be determined through what the city wants to build.

Dannie Stamper, Platte City’s parks and recreation director, said at the meeting that financing of about $1 million would be possible for the parks department alone.

However, Stamper indicated that the city might be willing to help with funding as some current debt is paid off. The hope would be to fund the project without asking for a tax increase, although Stamper didn’t rule that possibility out if a survey of residents showed strong enough support for the project.

The most recent survey of residents showed strong support for a new public pool facility but that support diminished when asked to pay additional taxes to fund a potential project. 
Kurtz worried about the total cost of the project vs. the number of people who actually utilize such a facility. Architects estimated a new pool facility complete with modern amenities could easily cost more than $1 million.

“There’s a lot of money to be spent on a pool that’s open three months a year — at best,” Kurtz said.

In the Platte City Pool’s heyday, customers flocked from neighboring small communities, and that could be the case again with the right amenities. However, the old L-shaped pool with a deep end and diving board has become antiquated, and many new facilities are more small water park than the traditional laned swimming model.

“If you get a good pool, people are going to use it,” parks board member Karla Stahl said.

The board also discussed the possibility of making a new community center with updated gymnasium and banquet-type facilities could help save money. The larger project could be combined so shower and locker room facilities for the pool area could be built into the community center.

Platte City’s youth sports programs utilize the gymnasium at the Platte City Civic Center, but usage is limited in the old high school’s aging structure. The Platte City Police Department moved out of the east wing of the building more than three years ago due to a failing floor.

The obvious location for the projects would be the old Rising Star Elementary property, which the city is in the process of acquiring from the Platte County R-3 School District. The priority seems to be identifying a way to undertake a costly but worthwhile project that fills the needs of the parks department while also keeping money available to update existing parks and provide money to furnish potential new ones.

The timeline will remain indefinite until funding options are further vetted during upcoming parks board meetings.