17 February 2012

Potential Plans Presented for Fontenelle Park

Options for the future Fontenelle Park were presented at a public meeting at the park pavilion on Thursday, February 16th.

Three options were presented. About eighty people were present, including officials of Omaha Parks and Recreation, the mayor's office, stormwater engineers and community residents.

Option One would have the park remain as it is, though the lagoon would be enlarged in association with the CSO! project.

City officials said the financial losses occurring at the course must be considered.

There were no options presented by the public in attendance that would address the large shortfall in funds. There were numerous golf supporters present.

A decision on whether golf will remain will be made in the next two-three weeks, according to city officials. If the course is closed, that would occur immediately.

Option Two indicated immediate steps that would occur if the course closes. The fence surrounding the park would be removed, along with golf-related features. Picnic tables would be added.

The long-term potential for the park is shown with Option Three. The concepts shown reflect many of the features that people attending the previous meetings have shown a preference to including within the park space. Attractive features shown include replanting trees, having a Logan Fontenelle overlook, prairie and probable bioretention gardens southward from the lagoon, and native plantings and a arboretum on the hilltop.

The current club-house would be repurposed to provide recreational uses.

There was no information given at the meeting as to how any CSO! related activities would affect the park, other than enlarging the lagoon. Yet, officials would not commit to any long-term improvements until those plans are determined.

There are four obvious short-comings of this plan.

Any attempt to include a disc-golf course would preclude other uses, and there should be no further attention given to this sort of feature. There is already a course at Hummel Park, and one is being built at Levi Carter Park.

The proposed walkway would constrict the lagoon, and dramatically detract from its value. There are places were it could loop up the hill and provide a perspective view instead. Planners always place walks as close as possible to waterways for some inane reason. The route of the walkway has a number of unnecessary loops and bends.

There is nothing wrong with fishing from the bank, and what appear to be numerous access groins jutting into the lagoon. They would cause an increased disturbance factor and make the lagoon dirtier as trash would get thrown into the waters from these places. Any fishing would be developed in partnership with the Nebraska Game and Parks commission, and based on the work being done at Carter Lake, their fisheries staff like groins, and the more the better!

A road is not needed for access into the picnic area on the north side. A parking lot would suffice. A road would cause traffic concerns, increased noise and disturbance from people cruising through, a greater occurrence of trash, and demands for maintenance.

There was no information given at the meeting as to how Northstar Foundation efforts to the west of the park could complement any changes at the city area. There was talk about this but no options were mentioned.

A public comment period occurred after the plans were presented. It was a lively discussion, with many speakers wanting to keep golf, concerns over trash.

Councilman Ben Gray said any "changes would be totally for the neighborhood." He also mentioned planning efforts at other North Omaha parks, especially Adams Park. Work has already been completed at Miller Park.

There was no opportunity to discuss the proposed plans, as they were not available for review prior to the meeting, nor was there time to give them a good look before the comment period.