Improvements planned for Cosmo and Cosmo-Bethel parks

Sunday, November 11, 2007 | 7:49 p.m. CST; updated 12:38 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Park-goers might enjoy new facilities at Cosmopolitan Park and Cosmo-Bethel Park as early as spring 2008, said Mike Hood, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, in a report to City Council.

Pending council authorization, the Parks and Recreation Department plans to demolish and rebuild the Nickell/Lamb and the Burford/Dexheimer restroom buildings in Cosmo Park and a restroom in Cosmo-Bethel. A picnic shelter will also be reconstructed in Cosmo-Bethel.

There was a general consensus of approval for the project at a meeting for interested parties held by department staff on Oct. 18 at the Activities and Recreation Center.

“These two projects are probably some of the public improvement projects that I think all of our users would say it’s about time we did,” said Park Services Manager Mike Griggs.

Both of the restroom facilities in Cosmo Park were built more than 30 years ago and are rudimentary in nature. A dilapidated brick restroom facility at Cosmo-Bethel is supported by wooden outward-slanting posts that have suffered years of weathering. After multiple repairs and modifications, the facilities should be replaced, the department has decided.

Griggs explained that the buildings need to meet new codes and regulations that weren’t required 30 years ago. He said the restrooms aren’t completely accessible to all users and lack basic amenities such as multiple soap dispensers and partition doors.

The new facilities will be modeled after the restrooms constructed at Stephens Lake Park that boast soap dispensers and dryers at each sink station.

Griggs identified an increase in size and accommodation of users as key features of the new restrooms, and he noted the benefit of heating the facilities.

“Probably the biggest advantage is that these will be heated, so we can extend the season beyond our traditional April to October,” he said. The unheated restrooms are closed from Oct. 15 to April 15 for the “freeze season.”

Cosmo-Bethel’s new picnic shelter will measure 80 feet by 40 feet and will be able to accommodate large groups and company events.

“We recognize the need to create a large group picnic area,” Griggs said. “People who are hosting events with several hundred people have greater electrical demands and need more space to park amenities like large-sized cooking grills and concession trailers.”

The Parks and Recreation Department estimates project costs at $175,000 for Cosmo Park and $255,000 for Cosmo-Bethel. The projects will be bid together in hopes of getting a better price, but all funding will come from the parks sales tax.

Griggs said the renovations will improve the public’s overall experiences at the parks. “These are the types of facilities people now expect when they come to our parks,” he said.

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