What to do with Expo?

The former Expo Pool site should become a neighborhood park with a walking path and a playground, people who live nearby told Fort Dodge officials and a consultant Tuesday night.

The roughly 30 people who attended a meeting on the site’s future made it clear that they do not want a dog park or a skateboard park there.

They also opposed the concept of selling the property along North Seventh Street for the future creation of housing. Because federal money was used to pay for the pool decades ago, the city government would be required to create a new park to replace it if the property was sold to a developer.

”I’ve heard pretty consistently that we want a traditional park,” Craig Erickson, a landscape architect for Shive-Hattery, of West Des Moines, said at the conclusion of the session in the Municipal Building, 819 First Ave. S.

Shive-Hattery has a contract with the city to plan the demolition of the pool and develop a plan for reusing the site.

Erickson will now start work on the specifications for the demolition job, which is scheduled to be done this fall. The city has about $60,000 to pay for the work. That money was included in an $8.95 million bond issue used to pay for the Rosedale Rapids aquatic center.

He’ll also prepare a report on redeveloping the site, which he described as a ”good, standard neighborhood park size.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the residents said they would like to see playground equipment, a picnic shelter, a walking path that loops through the site, flower beds and art work. Some expressed interest in having a water play area for small children called a splash pad there. The city has a splash pad in Oleson Park on South 17th Street.

While the pool is expected to be removed this fall, new amenities won’t be developed for about three years, according to Lori Branderhorst, the city’s director of parks, recreation and forestry. She said that’s the soonest that city officials will be able to budget the needed money for the project.

Expo Pool, which opened in 1982 on the site of a previous pool, closed in 2009. It was replaced the following year with the aquatic center at North 32nd Street and 10th Avenue North.

Tuesday’s session was the first public meeting on the future of the site. Councilman Robert ”Barney” Patterson told Branderhorst that the meeting was overdue.

Branderhorst said city leaders were ”looking for direction” during the meeting.

”The city isn’t leaning any special way,” she said.

However, Councilman Kim Alstott, who represents Ward 4 where Expo Pool is located, said some residents of the neighborhood had the perception that the city leadership had already decided what to do with the site.

”They all assumed the city wanted to put housing there,” he said after the meeting. ”I told them that I never heard anyone say that.”

During the meeting, Alstott asked the assembled residents if they wanted a dog park, a place where people could let their dogs off their leashes, at the Expo Pool site. They replied with a loud and unanimous ”no.”

Alstott got the same answer when he asked if they wanted a skateboard park there.

The city has a skateboard park beneath the bridge over Soldier Creek on North Seventh Street. Branderhorst said she received a petition from youths and parents requesting that it be moved to a different location.