Online votes cast by Auburn and Opelika residents determined that the future skate park — a joint venture between the two cities — will be designed by American Ramp Company, which received four more votes than Spohn Ranch Skateparks.
The two companies had each submitted a design based off public input during two community forums held earlier in the summer. A total number of 1,026 votes were cast in the online contest.
"We said we were going to go with the one that got the most votes, so we're going to go with American Ramp," said Parks and Recreation Director Becky Richardson, who added that she hopes to have a contract for the project before the City Council by the first meeting in October.
She is working with American Ramp Company on the parameters of the contract.
"We've been talking to them about adding some sidewalks from the skate park to the parking lot (at Indian Pines Golf Course) as part of their project," Richardson said. "We feel they need to do that so it would tie in with the actual skate park."
The skate park will be located at Indian Pines, which Auburn owns and operates in partnership with Opelika. The park will replace four old tennis courts.
A construction time line is still being worked out, and Richardson is unsure if work will start in the fall or after the freeze season is over, she said.
To fund this project, the city of Auburn has set aside $200,000, which will be matched by the city of Opelika. The skate park will cost about $300,000 and $50,000 from each municipality will fund any accompanying construction work that would be required.
Richardson said the city will post a press release on its website, www.auburnalabama.org, when demolition of the four tennis courts is scheduled.
The city is also gearing up to implement the first phase of projects outlined in the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan.
Phase one includes $40 million in projects to be completed over the next five years.
The projects include:
• Installing shade covers over all permanent bleachers at ballfields
• Six pickleball courts and shade shelter connected to Yarbrough Tennis Center
• An inclusive playground at Town Creek park with parking and a trail addition for connectivity
• Four softball fields, four baseball fields, five multi-use fields, playgrounds, walking trails, support buildings and parking to create Society Hill Park off Moores Mill Road
• Pavilion, restrooms, tot lot, dog park, trails, parking and a nature playground to create Dinius Park off Glenn Avenue
• A gymnasium and pool at Lake Wilmore Community Center
• Three outside fields, restrooms, parking and indoor space for basketball and soccer at the Soccer Complex
• Greenway with pavilions, dog park, play area and parking from Westview to Shug Jordan, along with an expansion to Sam Harris Park
• Creation of new exterior spaces and an amphitheater at the Auburn Public Library
• New entrance and meeting rooms at Frank Brown Recreation Center
• Passive park with trails at Richland Park
• Expansion for ceramics and other programs at the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center
• Begin the transition of Felton Little Park from a ballpark to a passive park, with fences, light poles and bleachers taken down and an open space and dog park created.
Richardson said preliminary work is being done on some of the phase one projects, and installing bleacher covers at all ballfields is being fast-tracked.
"We're working on vendors and pricing and all of that right now," she said. "Then, we've been working with engineering to get out the RFQ (request for quotation) for the design for (projects) we need design services for, so we are already doing some of the preliminary work on that."
She said the design for Dinius Park could be tweaked a bit to include a nature playground in the park.
"The nature playground out at the Kreher Preserve is really popular, so we thought that might be a good thing to go there," Richardson said.
Dinius Park is the only project in the first phase to be funded solely on donations, courtesy of the Dinius Estate. It will be located on Glenn Avenue, on land behind the shopping center on the corner of Glenn and University Drive.
Felton Little Park could be receiving a little tweaking of its own. CSX is donating a train caboose to the city, and Richardson said the train car could end up at Felton Little, once the park becomes passive.
"One exciting thing that we're working on is that we were approached by CSX about getting a caboose," Richardson said. "We've had some discussion with the (Parks and Recreation Advisory) Board and the Greenspace (Advisory) Board about where to put it, and the consensus seems to be to go ahead and get it, then move it to Felton Little once the renovations are done.
"So, that'll be a cute amenity since it's right near the railroad track."
Richardson isn't sure how the city will utilize the caboose, but said she has seen other places use them for kid's parties or concessions.
To view the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan, visit www.auburnalabama.org/future.