Omaha City Council to consider using ARPA funds for city park improvements

(Omaha, NE) -- The Omaha City Council will consider appropriating millions in American Rescue Plan Act funds to Omaha parks for improvements.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert's office says the first of nine City of Omaha park improvement projects will be considered by the City Council on Tuesday. The City received $112 million in ARPA funds, with $10 million expected to be spent on park projects and other public spaces. The mayor's office says a citizen survey completed in 2021 showed improvements to public spaces are a top preference for the federal funds. “Based on public feedback, the Parks Department has prioritized City parks and facilities and several other public areas for significant upgrades,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “We will improve access and safety, upgrade park equipment, and create new opportunities for recreation.”

The first project is replacement of the rubber playground surface at Clarkson Park, just north of 42nd and Dodge. Stothert's office says over the coming months, contracts for other park improvements will also go to the Council for approval. All projects have been reviewed by Deloitte and meet the federal criteria for ARPA spending. “The impact of these projects is incredibly high,” said Parks, Recreation and Public Property Director Matt Kalcevich. “These will create new and exciting opportunities for the community to enjoy our parks.”

The parks up for revitalization include:

  • MANDAN PARK - 6215 S 13th Street
  • $1.6 million
    • 1-3 miles of new nature trails, playground and picnic area upgrades and a nature center that will be the headquarters for a new youth summer camp, similar to the popular Hummel Park day camp. Part of the tree canopy will be cleared to increase access to the park and improve safety and security for park users.
  • FONTENELLE PARK - 45th & Ames
  • $750,000
    • The 90-year old park pavilion and caretaker facility will be remodeled for programming and event rentals. A disc golf course will be built, plans also include new trails.
  • PIPAL PARK - 7770 Hascall Street
  • $1 million
    • A new barrier-free playground and spray ground, restroom building remodel, walking paths, repaved park road, signs and landscaping. Work may be completed in two phases to include City CIP funding.
  • LYNCH PARK - 2200 S 21st Street
  • $3 million
    • Multi-phase project includes a reset of the baseball field, all roads and parking lots, court spaces, existing open-air shelter, and additional open field space. A later phase will include the addition of a playground, spray ground, restroom building, walking trail, and additional parking. A caretaker/maintenance facility is also being developed. Work will be completed in multiple phases to include City CIP funding.
  • $1 million
    • This 2.3-mile section of the trail will be expanded to 10 feet wide and resurfaced with a projected new lifespan of 20-plus years. This section from Fontenelle Park to Adams Park helps keep several other projects currently under construction, and future trail segments strategically connected as part of the city’s trail network.
  • HITCHCOCK PARK POOL - 5025 S 45th Street
  • $1 million
    • The focus is on infrastructure to continue successful operations for another 20 years, including all gutters and grates, caulking and sealing, damaged or decaying pipe, a new fence around the property and new roof for the main building are also planned. The high dive will be removed and replaced with new features.
  • ELMWOOD PARK POOL - 606 S Happy Hollow Blvd
  • $400,000
    • The focus is on stabilization of the existing open swim area and the deepest part of standing water in the pool to continue successful operations for another 20 years. The work will focus on improving all gutters and grates, caulking and sealing, and repairs to the existing drop slides.
  • CLARKSON PARK - 124 N 42nd St
  • $125,000
    • A new rubber surface for the playground resurfacing, add benches around that existing space, add picnic tables and make improvements to the existing shelter.
  • KOUNTZE PARK - 3505 Florence Blvd
  • $250,000
    • This project includes the major activity areas of the park including the areas by the former community center, playground and spray ground areas, baseball field, and court areas. Work may need to be done over multiple phases to include City CIP or additional private funding.

In addition to the city parks, three other public spaces are part of the ARPA-funded improvements:

  • $500,000
    • Multi-phase proposal to redesign and activate the plaza. Additional funding will be provided by the State and other private funders.
  • $75,000
    • Reset or replace existing pavers and stonework that surround the memorial to Dr. King. Matching funds are being provided by the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
  • DREAMLAND PARK - 24th & Lizzie Robinson Avenue
  • $75,000
    • Refurbish the existing fountain and beautification including new signage, flowers, and tree trimming.

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