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Gering council approves recreation consultant
May 15, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Members of the Gering City Council approved $75,000 to hire the Florida firm Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA) to develop a master plan for the area’s recreation and leisure needs.

Council member Dan Smith, who also serves as chair of the Recreation Committee, told fellow council members they made some changes to the original agreement. A business plan for Five Rocks Amphitheater was added. There will also be additional study of Gering’s aging municipal swimming pool.

Smith said the business plan for Five Rocks was requested so the city can determine how to best utilize the facility and increase its use throughout the tourism season. And the additional study of the municipal pool will help determine whether a splash pad and a wave pool could be added in the future.

Smith said the pool is surrounded by a number of baseball and softball diamonds, which could become one of the local hubs for drawing in tourism trade.

“I see this study as a long-term plan,” Smith said. “It will give us some guidance even as council members change in the future.”

Some of the items listed in the SFA plan include study of potential new facility developments, the capability of existing facilities to host regional and national events, and the potential impact of economic development those facilities would bring.

The council also received an update from Ben Backus, the city’s representative on the County Communications Center Advisory Board. The city recently signed onto a new agreement to help fund the comm. center to provide emergency and 911 calls to the county’s municipalities.

Backus said the total funding from all municipalities and the county comes to $58,405 this year. However, the county is asking for an increase to $225,000 to start a sinking fund, which will be earmarked for replacing the outdated computer-assisted dispatching equipment. The advisory board estimated it would cost in the half-million dollar range to replace.

Gering’s current share of funding the comm. center is $13,433. But for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 fiscal years, that share would increase to $51,750.

“As a board, we’re trying to make sure all the systems are redundant so we’ll never be without emergency service,” Backus told the council. “We also have that consolidation bogeyman to deal with. If the state decides to consolidate a number of its emergency call centers, we want to be one of them that remain in operation.”

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