While the name might not be familiar, the topic is. The APEX is the
official name for what was called a health park in the beginning.
At the first public meeting in October, it was announced that
Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital had gifted to the city the
property where the old hospital had stood on Eighth Street.
At that time Mayor Keith Snyder said it was his goal to see a
health and wellness facility of some type erected where the hospital
once stood. He said it would be a fitting homage to a location that
for over 100 years had seen to the health and well-being of Lincoln
and Logan County residents.
At the same time, Snyder announced the Woods Foundation had
gifted money for the development of a design for a health and
At the October meeting, Kent Massie of Massie Massie and
Associates along with Lisa Kramer of Prairie Engineers had talked
about the options available for such a facility.
In the end a committee was formed and work began on creating a
viable plan for the space.
At the October meeting, there were those who were opposed to the
development of another "park' in the city of Lincoln. The most vocal
of those was Lincoln resident Ray Payne, who spoke out several times
against the plan before leaving the meeting midway through.
At this week's meeting, Snyder said the committee for the
development of a plan had been very active in the last few months,
and they had come up with something that would benefit the residents
of Lincoln and pay the suitable homage to the old hospital.
Massie provided a slide show of the initial drawings that have
been completed. He said the input of the committee had driven the
drawing, and he had gotten really excited over their enthusiasm for
the project and the imagination they had put into it.
The APEX, first of all, is a new name given to the site by Andrea
Burris. The name came about when committee member Njere Berry sent
out a mass email from her workplace, Lincoln Christian University,
asking students and co-workers to offer their suggestions of a
Berry said the response to her request was amazing. She compiled
a list of all the suggestions, brought it to the committee, and APEX
was the one that stood out.
APEX is an acronym for Area for Personal Enrichment
After the name was chosen, the committee's youngest member, Tate
Mourning, came up with a logo for the APEX, and it evolved into the
APEX @ City Center.
Massie said the design of the park began with a one-fifth-mile
walking path. From there, he inserted circles and ovals into the
path to add options for walkers. This is something the committee had
felt was important to have.
The rest of the APEX was then divided into regions, with the
central focus being a large mound or hill. The hill is currently
designed to have a rope-climbing feature, a boulder-climbing feature
and a set of steps, all leading to the top, where there will be wind
Another area of the APEX will have a water feature where children
can play in sprinklers. The area will also have a sidewalk around it
suitable for roller skating or tricycles for tots.
A third area will be established for low-impact exercises such as
yoga or meditation, and a fourth area is currently designated as an
outdoor amphitheater for live entertainment or outdoor movies.
Throughout the APEX there will be trees, benches and outdoor
exercise equipment stations.
Kramer spoke about what the next steps would be, now that a
drawing is completed. She said the plans will first be taken to the
Lincoln City Council for their approval. She hopes to do that at
their Feb. 28 meeting.
Once the plans are approved, the next big task will be to secure
funding for the project. She said there are a number of state
and federal grants for these types of developments, and there are
also possibilities of private donors helping to fund the project.
Snyder mentioned the city was also gifted the ALMH parking lot on
the north side of Eighth Street. He said if that parking lot were
sold to a developer for housing, the money from the sale could be
invested in the building of the APEX. He noted the size and shape of
the lot lent itself to the building of a multi-unit development more
than to single-family homes.
After the talks given by Massie, Kramer and Snyder, the floor was
opened for discussion.
Payne was present once again for this meeting and continued to
raise his objections to another park in the city of Lincoln. He said
he felt the ideas presented for the APEX could be incorporated into
the other city parks, and this property could be developed into
Bill Gossett, who is a member of the planning committee for the
APEX, said he didn't see the need for a housing development.
Snyder said the property was a gift to the city, and the city
didn't intend to sell it for profit. He told Payne if the area can't
be used for the good of the community, he would rather see it given
back to the hospital.
Payne said the city gave the property to the hospital in the
first place, just as they had given the property to build the new
hospital last year. However, Snyder said Payne had been misinformed;
the city did not give property to ALMH so they could build their new
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Payne also said he didn't believe anyone would use the APEX. He
noted the park district was heated in the winter and air-conditioned
in the summer and that no one was going to go walking in the extreme
heat or cold. However, there were more than a few in the audience
who disagreed with him.
Payne finally asked what would be wrong with putting it on a
ballot and asking the taxpayers if they wanted another park. Snyder
said the taxpayers would have a voice in the matter through their
city aldermen. He told Payne the aldermen will be given the
opportunity to decide how to go forward. If voters in their wards
have opposition to the APEX, they should contact their aldermen with
Moving on in the discussion, others spoke out in favor of the
Among them was Ron Tomczak. Tomczak said his father-in-law, Dr.
Ed Ulrich, practiced medicine at ALMH for over 30 years. He said Dr.
Ulrich, now deceased, would have been very happy to see the old
hospital site being used in this manner.
He also spoke about living in Chicago for a time and recently
returning to find some old buildings gone and a site similar to the
APEX in its place. He said it added to the community, and a lot of
people were using it.
Wayne Cox and Berry both spoke about a site in Bloomington that
offers many of these same components. Both said they took their
families to Bloomington to enjoy that place and would love to be
able to have something like it in Lincoln.
Andy and Melody Anderson were present at the meeting. Andy is a
member of the Logan County Board, and Melody is a Ward 1 Alderman.
Andy asked Massie if there were other sites in the area like the
APEX, and if so, were they successful, did people use them?
Massie said the APEX is a unique space he has really enjoyed
putting together. In other areas there are parks with bits and
pieces of the same components, but there is nothing like the
APEX. As far as being successful, he said yes, the majority of them
are. He added, though, there are a few that are not, and he sees
that as being due to a lack of involvement and proper planning.
Alderwoman Kathy Horn also commented, saying the APEX was
creating a place for the imagination. There are no typical
playground areas in the APEX; it has spaces that will allow people
to imagine for themselves what they are.
Other items that were discussed involved parking. Snyder pointed
out there is one short bank of parking along Walnut Street
specifically for the APEX, but there is also an abundance of
It was also pointed out there will be a bike parking area, and it
is hoped that many folks will bike, walk or run to and from the
Cox also commented about what a place like this can do to attract
people into the community. Cox's wife is Dr. Melissa Cox, who
practices medicine in Lincoln. He said there was a time when she was
involved in trying to draw new doctors into the community, and for
many of them, they felt Lincoln didn't have enough family-oriented
activity spaces; they wanted more from a community if they were
going to bring their families into it.
Mike Maniscalco of the Lincoln & Logan County Development
Partnership also spoke about this, saying investing in the community
was attractive to those he is trying to bring in. He said it was
good to be able to say to a company looking to come to Lincoln:
"This community invests in itself; why don't you invest in it too?"
He said what he saw was exciting for economic development, and he
looks forward to seeing the APEX completed.
As the evening wound down, another topic was introduced. Snyder
said he would like to work with Marsha Greenslate and Roy Logan of
the Lincoln Park District at some time in the future to develop a
city park master plan. The city of Lincoln does have small parks
scattered throughout the city and the larger Memorial Park on the
city's far west edge. Snyder said it would be good to look at all
the parks in the city and see what needs to be done to make them
better for the community.
Snyder said if the plans for the APEX @ City Center are approved
by the council in February, he hopes to put together a fresh
committee for the purpose of finding the funds to build it. He noted
that there are, as Kramer said earlier, grants that can be applied
for, but he also believes there are people in Lincoln who will
contribute. He said as a matter of fact, he's already heard from
some who do want to help, and he will be contacting them when the
time is appropriate.
See copy of concept plan.
[By NILA SMITH]