By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
Some Killeen City Council members are worried there won't be enough space for people to park after the new senior and recreation centers open at Lions Club Park, let alone when an aquatics center opens in a year.
That was the discussion at the Community Services Committee meeting Tuesday.
The committee also discussed traffic concerns around the entrance and exit of the park on Stan Schlueter Loop near the Trimmier Road intersection.
"We're digging our own grave," Councilman Juan Rivera, committee member, said. "The issue was the parking space: how horrible it is now compared to how bad it's going to be after we open the center, after we open the gym ... Are we in the right place to do this swimming center?"Already, parks and recreation department officials and council members have expressed a need for more parking.
"Seasonally, we have thousands of people at Lions Club Park," said Glenn Morrison, community services director.
He said additional parking can be included in the aquatics center plan and design.
"We have the area," Morrison said. "It gets into the funding and all that."
City Engineer George Lueck addressed concerns about leaving the park. He suggested conducting some preliminary traffic counts and analysis at peak times before considering a traffic signal. Lueck said the city would have to work with the Texas Department of Transportation to install a new signal because that is considered a highway.
Councilman Kenny Wells, committee member, suggested a feeder road to alleviate traffic congestion at the exit during peak times. Wells and Rivera opposed a signal because of the proximity to Trimmier Road. Lueck said it would be difficult to build a feeder street because of funding and finding a place for traffic exit.
"You're not going to be very popular if you dump them into those subdivisions," Lueck said.
Rivera said the park needs to be ready for the increased traffic when the aquatic center opens.
"I just want to make sure we're doing this right," Rivera said. "We need to grow with growth."
The aquatic center is expected to open by Memorial Day weekend in 2009.
The new Senior Center and Family Recreation Center at Lions Club Park are scheduled to open May 3.
Brett Williams, parks and recreation department director, said there are several activities planned for that day and week.
He said there will be a preview reception on May 1 for major donors and a grand opening ceremony for the public on May 3.
"We're going to make it an athletic-type of event," Williams said.
He said the dress code is sneakers and shorts.
"It will be a full display of what the facilities will be like," Williams said.
He said the ceremony will include a ribbon-cutting and tours.
On May 9, there will be a Tommie Harris Foundation fundraiser. On May 10, Harris – Killeenite and Pro Bowl defensive player for the Chicago Bears – will present a clinic for children at the new recreation center. Harris donated $165,000 to purchase fitness equipment for the new center.
Williams said the new Senior Center will also have activities celebrating the opening throughout May, including a dance and barbecue.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7550