City staff have come up with three different ways to upgrade Robron Park but council will be short millions of dollars no matter which option it chooses.
Option one includes an artificial turf field, upgrading the Merecroft and South Birch parking lots, utilities and drainage, upper walkway and lookouts, paths and trails, spectator spine/bleachers and all hard and soft landscaping.
That option would cost $4.9 million.
Option number two includes removing the spectator amenities, paths/trails/walkways and the Merecroft parking lot from option one. That would cost the city $4 million.
Option three is building the components that were removed from the project, but at a later date.
That would be the most expensive option at $5 million.
Lynn Wark, the city’s parks project supervisor, said the turf field is the most expensive portion of the project, making up 52 per cent of the costs.
“The actual artificial turf facility is approximately half of the total project budget,” Wark said in a report to council. “The majority of the remaining project costs can be attributed to the fact that the site for the artificial turf field is essentially an ‘island’ in the middle of a large, unserviced community park space; therefore there is a high cost to provide services, lighting and access to the site. As well, this area of the park was originally built on very poor fill, therefore the site prep and base course costs are high.”
The city has budgeted $700,000 from the Parks Parcel Tax to go towards the Robron project.
Other funding sources are: field user fees ($125,000), Development Cost Charges for park development ($350,000), gaming reserve ($100,000), and the Community Works Fund ($300,000).
But even with all of those funding sources combined, the city would still be short $3.3 million if it goes with option one, the full build, and option two (with components removed) would leave the city short $2.5 million. Option three, with the removed components added later, would leave the city with $3.4 million in unfunded project costs.
City staff have come up with different funding strategies, all but one would require the city to borrow money – either over five or 10 years – which would be repaid through a tax increase.
The other option would be to increase the Parks Parcel Tax during the three-year construction period (2013-2015).
The city did poll the community before on borrowing money for Robron and support was low.
A 2008 referendum was defeated, however the question on the voting ballot lumped Robron in with borrowing money for an entertainment centre.
Since then community interest in the Robron project has remained and council approved spending $250,000 to prepare a tender-ready design for Robron Park in the 2010 budget.
By 2011, the project was construction-ready and an additional $225,000 was allocated for an all-weather field, to be paid for from the Parks Parcel Tax reserve fund.
Phase one – the outdoor lacrosse box, relocation of the tennis courts and a new playground – was completed but phase two and three were still left on the books.
The city applied for funding to the province’s Community Recreation Program to allow the final phases to proceed but months later withdrew its application in order to support the Strathcona Regional District’s application to the same program for arena upgrades.
However, after the city’s Parks Plan Review, released in November 2012, revealed the community’s number one priority is completion of Robron Park, Coun. Andy Adams brought the item back to council during this year’s financial planning meetings.
Council requested city staff provide an updated financing strategy for Robron, which was presented to council at its Committee of the Whole meeting last week.
Council was expected to consider the report Tuesday after the Mirror went to press.