A more costly but more elegant plan to redesign Santa Rita Park after the expansion of the wastewater-treatment plant gained favor from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Wednesday.
The board unanimously agreed to recommend a plan that ultimately will cost $5.7 million versus a cheaper option that would have cost $3.17 million.
The final recommendation from the board was to try to blend the two plans to come up with some cost savings, and board members recognized that acceptance of the more expensive plan could lead to delays for improvements to other parks and trail projects.
“Santa Rita is a keystone park. It is the entrance to the city,” said board member Anthony Savastano at the meeting held at the Durango Community Recreation Center. “But we do have pressing budget concerns. I’m torn.”
The key design characteristic of Concept 2, the more expensive option, is that it would move the parking lot closer to U.S. Highway 550/160 and away from the Animas River.
“I agree Concept 2 has the look and feel we want. It’s much more dramatically park-like, and I think, functionally, it adds something by the way things are positioned,” said board member Richard Hoehlein.
Hoehlein added that accepting Concept 2 would mean the board would be willing to delay redesigns to other parks and trail systems that are in the works.
“I still think it’s worth devoting the dollars to Concept 2, and if it requires we hold off on other priorities, we accept that,” Hoehlein said.
The two projects that could be delayed by accepting the more costly Santa Rita redesign would be adding a trailhead, parking and restrooms at Twin Buttes and implementing a redesign of Cundiff Park.
Scott McClain, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department, cautioned board members that earlier attempts to blend the two designs found only slight cost savings if relocating the parking lot closer to the highway is included.
Both redesigns would include sand volleyball courts, picnic shelters, basketball courts, the existing playground, boat ramps and restrooms.
Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz said the Concept 1 option is “very affordable to the city,” but Concept 2 could lead to delays in working on other parks and trails.
“If we go with option two, it will impact other projects and the timing of them,” she said.
Board member Sandy Burke said Santa Rita is so popular and heavily used it is worth the better redesign.
“It’s so hard for me to let go of the better concept,” she said.
The advisory board’s recommendation will go to the City Council.