New pool, pickleball courts coming soon to O’Fallon? Council mulls projects for next FY
Improvements to O’Fallon Station Plaza, new pickleball courts and a new parking lot at the Family Sports Park, plus pond renovation in the northeast corner are among the projects targeted with the Build O’Fallon Trust Fund money for the next fiscal year.
Andrew Dallner, director of parks and recreation, briefed the O’Fallon City Council about the plans during the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.
In November 2021, the council approved a half-cent sales tax increase as part of the Property Tax Relief and Build O’Fallon Trust Fund initiative. The original balance was $4.02 million, from the American Recovery Plan Act funds.
City Administrator Walter Denton explained the tax levy was reduced by $680,000 — which was the parks portion — and was replaced with 25 cents of the new Home Rule sales tax.
The other 25 cents of the sales tax was deposited into the Build O’Fallon Trust Fund, to be used for council-approved, unfunded capital projects that align with the 2040 Master Plan, with the intent to grow the Trust Fund for future projects.
The balance available for FY24 is $718,868.
Improvements recommended for the O’Fallon Station Plaza include a new concrete patio area with sunshade at a cost of $165,000, which would include a new entry wall and welcome signage, sunshade covers for the existing concrete patio in the rear and additional seating and amenities.
This will provide much needed shade for Vine Street Market patrons and the updated sign would brighten up the entrance to the downtown area. It will provide a hangout area in downtown.
Pickleball courts will cost $250,000 for the courts and new lights would be $49,000 to $53,700 for a total of approximately $300,000.
Dallner said the new courts would be constructed with post tension concrete that provides a surfacing that would resist cracking and last a long time.
He said the new courts would be regulation size to allow for more competitive play, and additional courts increase playability.
They recently resurfaced courts at Hesse Park and added a new court and lights to make four available.
He said there is a lack of data as to how many people will actually use the courts.
National data has noted pickleball is one of the fastest growing recreational activities in the U.S.
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong using a paddle and plastic ball with holes. Because pickleball is a game appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels, it is considered a good introductory sport, and has become very popular in recent years.
It is estimated about 61 players use the courts in O’Fallon — a club was established about five years ago and has grown ever since. Surrounding towns also have pickleball courts that players travel to use.
Alderman Jessica Lotz mentioned that with the number of residents over age 50 expected to be playing, this provides more activities for that specific demographic that is mentioned in the Master Plan about providing gathering opportunities. She said this might draw young people interacting with older residents, which is one of the points targeted.
New parking lot, pond renovation
The new parking lot and pond renovation at the Family Sports Park will cost $575,000.
Dallner said this will add about 100 spots and would help eliminate parking on Nixon and at Discovery School. It would add a drop-off area or emergency access point for the baseball and soccer fields.
One of the drawbacks, he said, is the trail would have to be rerouted and a new entrance would need to be added. It would mean future field sizes for both soccer and baseball would be reduced.
The three projects total $1.04 million.
Denton said for this fund to grow, the staff recommends 33% of the sales tax be put in reserve, which is $462,000 a year.
By putting this amount in the trust fund, the balance of the account will be $6.1 million by the end of FY27.
Staff also recommends any interest earned from trust fund investments be available to fund any current year projects the city council approves.
Need for a new pool
For the current fiscal year budget in FY23, the community pool study was $900,000 and the all abilities playground was $800,000.
The Community Park is located along U.S. Highway 50 and is home to the annual City Fest in August. Replacing the community swimming pool, creating an all-inclusive playground, and adding community space for gatherings was part of the O’Fallon Parks Master Plan, along with more hiking and biking trails, completing the Family Sports Park, and putting new parks in underserved areas.
O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach said when the pool was built, the town’s population was only about 4,000. It is now over 30,000.
Plans include event space near the pool — known as Festival Plaza — that will feature a bandstand and shaded cloth canopies.
Dallner expects the new pool to be ready to open in 2025. As part of FY23 costs, the pool contractor was $100,000 and the survey $8,500.
Dollars and cents
Dallner said the All-Abilities Playground is on order, and that cost is $777,046. Estimated sales tax to be collected in FY23 is $1,228,868, with the payout $885,546.
The projected interest, six months on $4 million at 4.2% is $84,000. The amount needed to carry over to FY 24 is $ 814,454.
The 1/4 cent sales tax started in July 2022. In October, the city received $124,267. In November, $119,603. In December, received $123,998. Estimated through April 2023, a seven-month average, is $861,000.
Denton reminded the council it is their discretion as to what projects — if any — will be funded each fiscal year.
“If it is decided that fewer or no projects will be done in a particular year, the funds will just grow in the Build O’Fallon Trust Fund that can be used at a later time,” he said.
More about projects
The projects submitted for council consideration should be for unfunded capital projects over $100,000 that align with the Master Plan.
Approximate balance is $4,738,868. The available balance does not mean it all needs to be used. The balance available for FY24 — $718,868 — can be carried over to the following year for future projects.
After these projects were presented Monday night, the council will receive a poll asking for their input as to what project — if any — they would like to be funded for the FY24 budget year.
The next step would be the finance and administration committee meeting where potential budget items would be discussed.
Final say is when the budget is approved.