By Pauline Masson
Appointed Alderman Steve Myers stepped into a quagmire of government process and budget restraints when he suggested that planned bathrooms for Liberty Field be constructed in time for a planned high school rodeo in May.
Speaking at the Jan. 21 board meeting, Myers questioned the delay on the project.
Now that the city has the funds from the October Rodeo and the upcoming Chamber of Commerce Pianos for a Purpose, it will supply additional funds.
Myers said now is the time to act.
Stephen Flannery, park board president, who has lobbied for the bathroom/concession stand for two years, said Myers’ request for immediate action on the issue reminded him of the old Johnny Mercer song, “Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread.”
“There is a lot of stuff in play,” Flannery said. “There are contractors who are willing to help. When Dan (Rahn, city engineer) and I first met we thought it would cost about $70,000. We with 21 Group and scaled that back, which changed what it would cost,” he said. “Now we need to get an architect design done and estimate the cost. I don’t want to talk too much about contractors who talked to me until we know the cost.
“I’m not rushing into anything,” Myers added. “I just want to see it done.”
City Administrator Harold Selby said he and Mayor Herb Adams had discussed the project and he’s now looking at portable restroom buildings that are on ramps and capable of being moved in case of a flood. The portable structures might cost less than constructing a new building, he said.
Myers said he would like to see an upgrade in May for visitors coming in for the high school rodeo. He said the organization does move the rodeo around, but could pick a favorite town and stay here in Pacific.
However, Adams said May is an unrealistic time frame for the new restrooms.
“Because of limited funds, we always have fierce competition from all departments and projects,” Adams said. “It takes time to start and complete a project. I seriously just don’t think we have that kind of money coming in or sitting around. My gut feeling is for restrooms for this rodeo in May and in October we’re probably looking at portable again,” he added.
Adams said the city has pressing needs, including police cars with mileage over 100,000 miles.
“We have way too many of those,” he said. “When it comes to need, I fall on the side of police cars.”
The water and sewer departments also have pressing needs, he noted, that would have to be weighed against the new restroom.
“Let’s improve our temporary restroom situations while we plan for something more permanent,” Adams suggested.
The mayor compared the process for planning and constructing a new facility in Liberty Field to the process of expanding city hall.
“The question of a larger city hall started under Mayor Jill Pigg and continued under Mayor Jeff Titter,” Adams said. “After I was back in office Walt (Arnette, board of aldermen president) pushed seven or eight years. When we finally put it on paper it took two years. Four years later we started downsizing. It takes time to do it right.”
Just as he had when discussing the needs at city hall, Adams said he advised the park board and city engineer planning the new Liberty Field structure to start with a large project.
“Let’s see if we can raise the money for a large project,” he said.
Alderman Ed Gass said the city needs to determine whether it wants to purchase a portable structure or build a new building, but in order to do that aldermen needed some cost comparisons.
“Before our next meeting can we get Harold (Selby) and Dan (Rahn) to investigate the cost of buildings, portable or new construction?” Gass said.
Alderman Mike Pigg said one element the planners were looking at is solar panels.
“This is not just a bathroom,” Pigg said. “There is a whole package in the works.”
“We still need to start with cost,” Gass said. “I’d hate to spend design money until we decide what we want.”
Flannery said he and Rahn were completing the due diligence to define the project. The pair met with 21 Group, the engineering firm that did the no-rise certification for Liberty Field, to discuss the project.
“We also got input from other organizations,” Flannery said. “We discussed not only a bathroom, but also a mechanical room to store equipment and a concession stand building.
“There is more need than bathrooms,” he added. “The concept of mobile sounds like an addition to another building. In the long term we’re looking how to get the best bang for our buck.”
Flannery also noted that whatever is built is going to be very important to the Pacific Soccer Association (PSA).
“They have been calling for the restrooms and they have been raising funds toward the project,” Flannery noted.
Adams concluded that while the bathrooms were important and would eventually be built, they had to be worked into the financial capability and overall park improvement plans of the city.
“I don’t want Pacific Youth Association (PYA) to think we have forgotten about Cardinal Care,” Adams said. “That has been on the burner for some time now and it has not even gotten started.”