By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen City Council took several steps during its workshop and meeting Tuesday to improve recreational opportunities in the city.
During the pre-meeting workshop, the council gave a unanimous consensus for the Parks and Recreation Department to enter into an agreement with Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. for engineering and design services to build a family aquatic center at Lions Club Park.
In mid-February, the Community Services Committee selected the firm as its top choice for the city staff to negotiate with. Glenn Morrison, director of Community Services, said several staff members recently toured aquatic centers the firm has built in Waco, Cedar Park and Round Rock.
"We felt many elements in that would fit in Killeen," Morrison said.
Morrison said he was not using the best term when he called the new project a water park.
"That was a pretty poor definition on my part for what we were looking for," Morrison said.
He said a family aquatic center, or small water park, is the standard today.
"This is how pools have evolved," Morrison said.
A rectangular hole with water is much less than what communities demand now, he said; people are looking for zero-depth spray equipment, slides and other features.
"This is not to be in competition with commercial parks?" Councilman Larry Cole asked to clarify.
"What this is, is what public pools are today," Morrison said.
Kimley-Horn & Associates told the committee in December that the new family aquatic center – phase three of Lions Club Park on Stan Schlueter Loop – could be ready to open by Memorial Day 2009.
Also for Lions Club Park, the council authorized staff to buy equipment for the new Senior Center and Family Recreation Center, both scheduled to open May 3.
City Manager Connie Green said he wants to thank the community for donating more than $300,000 for the two buildings. Among the donations includes $165,000 from Killeenite and professional football player Tommie Harris. His donation will pay for fitness equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, mechanical weights and free weights. The council discussed more future recreational opportunities including a partnership with the Armed Services YMCA. The council approved a resolution to support a partnership with the ASYMCA for a future north-side recreation center at Longbranch Park.
Morrison said if the partnership works out and the ASYMCA receives the funding it needs, the city could build a 20,000- to 25,000-square-foot building including a gymnasium, fitness room and game room. The resolution of intent to partner with the ASYMCA will give it the leg-up it needs to seek grants, said Tony Mino, executive director of the ASYMCA in Killeen.
The council unanimously approved the resolution to support the partnership. Councilman Billy Workman asked during the workshop that the process be expedited.
"The north side is really suffering," Workman said.
In other business, several council members apologized to Beverly Norman, of Killeen. Norman wrote a letter to the editor, which appeared in Saturday's edition of the Killeen Daily Herald, expressing disappointment that no official from the city of Killeen sent a card or attended the services of her son, Capt. Michael Allen Norman, 36, a Killeenite.
Norman was killed by a roadside bomb Jan. 31 while serving in Baghdad, Iraq.
"I would like to apologize for that oversight," Cole said.
He said the council is sensitive to the military and supports it, as the majority of the council members are combat veterans.
"There's nobody more aware of the sacrifice of the soldier than this body," Cole said.
Others echoed those comments.
"I don't have enough words to apologize," Councilwoman Claudia Brown said.
She and Mayor Pro Tem Fred Latham asked for way to be notified – other than the media – about hometown military deaths. Latham suggested someone in the city get on the same list as a local senator who typically receives those notices about combat deaths in their district.
"I thank Mrs. Norman for her letter," Green said. "I think it identified a fault in our system."
Contact Kevin M. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7550