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Sports pavilion, trail upgrade projects to begin this summer

The NLYBS league is selling commemorative bricks to create a paved area near the planned new sports pavilion in Penn Meadows Park. The bricks were on display at NLYBS’ clean up day Saturday, March 28. For more information, visit www.eteamz.com/nlybs/ (photo by Lori Lindner)

NORTH LIBERTY– A couple of major construction projects to occur this summer will bring enhanced enjoyment of two of North Liberty’s main recreational features.
The North Liberty City Council on March 24 gave Parks Director Guy Goldsmith a nod to proceed with the design process for a new sports pavilion at Penn Meadows Park. The city is partnering with the North Liberty Youth Baseball and Softball (NLYSB) league for the construction of a building and adjoining picnic shelter, with NLYBS committing $250,000 of the project’s estimated $500,000 cost.
NLYBS has maintained its summer baseball and softball program for area youth aged four to 13 since 1992. Last year, more than 900 kids were registered in the volunteer-run, recreational level organization, funded solely by participation fees and donations. The current restroom facility at Penn Meadows Park is just a single stall each for men and women, with portable toilets serving the rest of the park.
The new pavilion will include an enclosed, air-conditioned concession stand, two seven-stall restrooms, a storage room and a paved, covered seating area with picnic tables. Since it is a pre-fabricated concrete structure, Goldsmith is also hoping it can serve as a storm shelter.
“We really have nothing up there in case of a storm,” Goldsmith said. He told the council he researched the typical capacity for storm shelters, and the proposed 1,600 square-foot building– if half of it is occupied with equipment and fixtures– leaves about 819 square feet that could be utilized in a storm.
“The federal standard for standing room is two square feet per person. So we are still talking 409 people who could possibly get inside that building if a storm would come. Maybe more, if the storage area is empty,” said Goldsmith.
The council offered a few remarks about the cosmetic features of the project, but gave verbal consensus for the city’s engineering firm, Shive-Hattery, to begin designing the foundation and utilities to serve the facility.
City Engineer Kevin Trom of Shive Hattery told the council the water and sewer portion of the project will be bid this summer and likely constructed in August. A foundation should be in place by September, with the building itself installed very late in the fall and the covered shelter area to follow. Paving around the area and the trail leading to the building should be installed next spring, in order to have the facility ready for next year’s summer ball league.
In addition to the pavilion, Penn Meadows Park will also be upgraded with an additional shade structure, Tot Lot play area and a splash pad later next year. Goldsmith said Parks Department staff will be involved in much of the construction and installation of all the projects in order to save costs.
The council generally expressed satisfaction with the project and the process.
“This is a fantastic project, and one that is long overdue,” said council member Coleen Chipman. “You’ve put a lot of thought into how to save money, and the cost effectiveness is really appreciated.”
Councilor Brian Wayson concurred.
“And thanks to the baseball folks too; it’s a big donation,” he said.

Trail project
While North Liberty’s trail system has been in place for years, a good portion of it needs an upgrade.
Trom told the council last week the section from Penn Street south to Forevergreen road would get a two-inch asphalt overlay. The surfacing will be completed in sections rather than all at once, with each section taking between one and two weeks.
“The paving part will only take a day so people won’t be too inconvenienced,” Trom said.
However, a more significant upgrade will happen on the trail from Zeller Street to behind Holiday Lodge mobile home park. The trail will be raised by about two feet to eliminate the frequent flooding and mud runoff it currently experiences. New culverts will be installed underneath the trail due to the existing ones providing insufficient drainage in the case of rain events.
Shive Hattery estimates the project to total $310,000 based on its preliminary design. Bids for the trail project will be let April 8, and Trom anticipated the actual work will be done throughout the summer, with a completion date in September.
Both the trail reconstruction and the city’s portion of the Penn Meadows Park sports pavilion will be funded through general obligation bonds.