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A new Metro Center parking lot

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 2:54 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 4:01 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — The Princeton Park Board is expected to close the Bureau County Metro Center for a maximum of two weeks later this year to resurface the parking lot.

At Monday’s board meeting, Princeton Park Board Executive Director Elaine Russell and Superintendent of Parks Keith Scherer presented information on the proposed closing, which could take place during the weeks of Aug. 16 and Aug. 26. Those two weeks are historically a slower time of the year with the county fair and the start of school, Russell said.

The proposed parking lot work is a huge project with the bulk of the expense coming out of the 2013-14 budget. Bureau County Highway Engineer John Gross and his assistant Gary Novotny have assisted with the project planning, writing up specifications for the bidding process and providing the park district with a cost estimate of the project. The county will also oversee the project as it is being completed, Russell said.

In a perfect world, the parking lot project would take only three-to-six days, but it’s all dependent upon the weather and the capabilities of whatever company is awarded the project, Russell said.

When questioned about handling some classes and activities off-site during the closing, Russell said it is a liability issue. Also, she doesn’t want to pick and choose which classes or activities will or will not be held off-site.

“I think closed is closed,” Russell said. “Hopefully, if the weather cooperates, we will be closed just a few days, not the full two weeks.”

The full-time staff will continue working during the closed time, entering from the Peru Street shop entrance or the farthest back parking lot at the Metro Center. The last time the Metro Center was closed was in 2001, Scherer said.

On Tuesday, Russell said Metro Center patrons will be kept informed on whenever a date is scheduled for the parking lot project. Keeping the patrons informed will be her No. 1 priority, she said.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, Russell reported on a meeting with the Shoemake Foundation Board at which she presented her funding request for the coming year. The Shoemake Foundation has been very generous to the park district, giving the district $36,000 in each of the past two years to help with expenses, she said.

Typically, she goes to the Shoemake Foundation Board with a $20,000 to $25,000 project list requests each year. This year she went with a larger proposal and a smaller proposal. The smaller $6,320 proposal was approved right away, with that money going for smaller items like handicap door handles, a laminator, paper cutter and nursery items. The second proposal was an upgrade of the sauna at the Metro Center, which was more in the $9,000 range.

After a discussion by the foundation board on the merits of a dry heat versus steam sauna, Russell brought the discussion back to the park board for a decision.

Maintenance coordinator Mike Anderson gave the park board an overview of the pros and cons of each system and also took the board to see the existing dry heat sauna in the lower level of the Metro Center.

After a review of the presented information, the board followed Anderson’s recommendation to go for a dry heat sauna, specifically one which has a tray where water can be placed to generate steam.

Russell will bring the sauna request back to the Shoemake Foundation Board for consideration.

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