Thursday, March 08, 2012
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City endorses APEX at City Center

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[March 08, 2012]  Monday night the Lincoln City Council voted unanimously to endorse a plan for the construction of the APEX at City Center.

Endorsing the plan means only that the city approves of the plan and wants to see it go forward. The city has made no commitment to finance the construction, with one exception.

The property that was once the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital was given to the city by the hospital. It included the hospital grounds on the south side of Eighth Street and the hospital parking lot on the north side of the street.

The city will be looking into selling the parking lot property, and the funds gleaned from that sale may be used to help fund the APEX.

Last week Lisa Kramer of Prairie Engineers and Kent Massie of Massie Massie and Associates attended the workshop meeting of the council along with APEX committee members Wayne Cox, Marcia Greenslate and Bill Vinyard.

Massie presented the group with a color drawing of the APEX proposal. He said there had been enough publicity on the topic that he didn't feel he needed to explain every detail of the site to the council.


What he did want to talk about is how the construction could be done in phases, as funding becomes available.

He said the first phase could be site preparation. Massie indicated that before the APEX is actually built, there will need to be a good stand of turf on the now-vacant lot. He also talked about some conservation efforts that could be incorporated into that first phase, such as harvesting rainwater for irrigation.

The APEX is divided into sections with certain highlights in each one. One portion of the grounds includes a mound or small hill for climbing and play.

Massie said the mound had been the attraction that held the most interest throughout the planning process. Therefore, that should be the first portion of the APEX to be built and the second phase of the plan. He said this would also include the walking paths for exercise.

Other elements of the plan include a flat space for exercise such as yoga, and a variety of locations where outdoor exercise equipment can be used. Massie indicated developing those elements would be the third phase of the plan.

Phase four will involve the development of the splash bowl. Massie said that in looking at this element, the committee had worked hard to make sure it would not take away from the water activities at the Lincoln Park District.

The splash bowl will be a spot where children can run through sprinklers. Water will not be deep and there will be no opportunity for swimming activities.

Included in the splash bowl plans is a circular pathway around the bowl for tricycles and skates.

Massie said the committee had again considered conservation in this area. They want to create the bowl using potable water that can then be collected and used in the irrigation system for the entire grounds.

The fifth and final phase of construction for the APEX would be the amphitheater area. Massie pointed out that the design of this area would lend itself to outdoor events such as music or movies in the park, but it would also be an ideal location for tot play.

He said the stage area of the amphitheater will include a canopy for shade, and the graduated levels of the earth seating would be great for climbing exercise.

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Massie concluded by saying the APEX at City Center is a unique place. It is not a sports complex, not a park, but rather a collection of fitness zones that can be used in many ways.

He said the APEX is a site that invites many activities without a lot of structure, a place that offers freedom of choice and imagination.

Massie also said he felt the funding to build the APEX could come from a lot of sources. With the health benefits of the site, he believes it will attract attention from the medical and insurance industries, as well as local businesses and local government.

Mayor Keith Snyder said he agreed there was already great interest in finding the money to build the APEX. He said he'd heard from individuals who are ready to donate right now.

There are also grants available for these types of developments, and research will be done to see what is out there and how to submit applications for the funding.

As the discussions neared an end last week, Marcia Greenslate, one of the committee members, spoke about the diversity of the committee and the pleasure they all took in developing such a terrific plan.

She noted: "We were told to dream big and we did."

She said as ideas were tossed out to the committee, there were some that were not feasible, but she thought what they came up with in the end was a really unique approach.

Wayne Cox, another committee member, also spoke last week, saying there was a misunderstanding in the community at large that the city was going to pay for this project. He said there has never been any intention for the city to foot the bill. He noted the search for grants and also other avenues for funding.

The mayor also spoke last week about the diversity of the committee. He noted the youngest member, Tate Mourning, who is only 8, and on the other end of the spectrum, Bill and Jean Gossett, who are quite a bit older than that. He said the wide variety of age groups had added a great deal to the committee.

With the endorsement Monday night of the APEX plan, the current committee will be more or less disbanded, and a new committee will be established to work on raising money for the project.

Snyder appointed the planning committee and will also put together the membership of the funding committee. There has been no mention to date of who might be on that committee or when they might begin their part of the work.


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