Fannie Robinson Park

An illustration shows the general design of a new bathroom to be built at Fannie Robinson Park.

A few projects at local parks are expected to pick up speed.

On July 24, the Taylor City Council received an update on Valero Quality of Life Projects. Representatives from PLACE designers Inc. talked about designs on a Fannie Robinson Park restroom and lighting for basketball courts there and Pierce Park, also known as the skate park.

“Projects has been made,” said Larry Foos, Taylor director of parks and recreation. “However, due to COVID and some identified issues and the development of working solutions, the design analysis has taken until now.”

Philip Wanke, PLACE desingers principal, said issues with the restroom came up when checking the soil where the bathroom is to be built. The original structure designs called for a prefabricated building using cinderblocks.

“The tech told us we have to excavate 10 feet of soil and then re-compact it, and then put the restroom on top of it,” said Wanke. “So that added a lot of cost to site work, so when we gotten our cost estimates, we talked amongst the team and decided we may need to look at a different option.”

According to Wanke, the team switched to designing a wood frame building for the restroom so that it could allow more soil movement. Councilmember Gerald Anderson asked about the longevity of using wood for the building.

“They’re very long lasting,” said Wanke. “We’re looking at metal siding, which is similar to the Givens Center, on the outside.”

The new design also eliminates the need for a retaining wall and requires less excavation costs. The floor plan remains generally unchanged.

“The look of it, it allows us to match a little bit better the colors and roof type of the pavilion, and we can also introduce some of the siding elements of the Givens Center,” said Wanke, “and so hopefully it’ll fit in a little bit nicer in the end.”

PLACE has also worked on lighting for Robinson’s basketball court and Pierce Park, also known as the skate park. Impact on neighbors has been determined to be mininmal.

“Essentially, all of these are in final design,” said Wanke. “Our goal with the timeline here is to get the final plans submitted for permit as early August as we can do, and then the plan is to come back to you at the second August meeting, give you a final designs and costs estimates so we can talk about getting this out to bid.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dwayne Ariola was concerned with project delays. The city entered into a contract with PLACE in January.

“We’re still in the design phase and we’re almost in August,” said Ariola. “I’m wondering why the delays in this project because I for one think that the basketball courts especially now during the summer, these guys should have been able to play some night basketball.”

Wanke said it was the firm’s understanding that the priority was the restroom, so PLACE first focused their efforts there.

“We’re also looking at taking these projects through at the same time, so that’s why we didn’t jump ahead on one,” said Wanke, who also reinterated earlier issues with the bathroom. “Those are some of the delays that happened along the way just as we meet, need information, meet again the following week, it can drag out just a little bit as we go through these.”

Ariola and City Manager Brian LaBorde both conveyed the urgency of the projects to Wanke. The PLACE principal said he was comfortable with the new timeline so that bids could go out in September and construction could begin in October.

Funds for the projects are approximately $500,000 from Valero Energy Corporation and $30,000 in bond money.

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