City mulls restrooms at Lon C. Hill Park

HARLINGEN — The city’s proposed $8.5 million super park appears to be taking shape.

Today, city commissioners are expected to consider a proposal to build restrooms at Lon C. Hill Park, the future site of the so-called destination park.

“It’s part of the overall design of the destination park,” City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.

The proposed project calls for construction of restrooms next to the park’s new $400,000 all-inclusive playground.

That would make it a safer site, Serna said.

Now, he said, residents using the new playground have to cross L Street to use the restroom.

“We want a bathroom that’s ADA-compliant and within close proximity to the all-inclusive playground,” Serna said.

Last year, commissioners rejected a $220,000 bid to build the restrooms because the proposal exceeded the project’s $100,000 budget.

The project called for construction of two men’s restrooms, two women’s restrooms and a family unit next to the new $400,000 all-inclusive playground off L Street.

Now, the city is proposing using a $50,000 donation from the late Rollins Koppel along with $30,000 in city funds to come up with additional money to fund the project to build the restrooms.

Meanwhile, architects continue to design the super park’s proposed features such as its large pavilion and entry courtyard, Serna said.

Serna said the designs are expected to be completed within two months.

However, the city has not set a timeline for the project, he said.

How we got here

The plan to develop a destination park ranks among the top priorities in the city’s new 10-year comprehensive plan.

For months, officials debated funding for the project, originally carrying a price tag of $12.9 million.

Then last year, officials downscaled the project.

First, Commissioner Michael Mezmar spoke out against borrowing money to build the super park.

Then, Commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn said he did not want to squeeze the Community Improvement Board’s budget, fueled by sales tax revenue earmarked to fund so-called quality of life projects, including the $16.7 million convention center.

Now, the city plans to use cash and grants to build the park in five phases, stretching out the project for as long as eight years. The super park’s first phase will help lay the foundation for the super park, whose five phases would include features such as an amphitheater, athletic courts, an adaptive field aimed at special needs children, a discovery center and a dog park.

The project’s fifth phase is expected to build a $1.2 million retractable roof over Harlingen Field.

What’s the cost?

Phase 1 — $2.6 million

Phase 2 — $1.69 million

Phase 3 — $1.3 million

Phase 4 — $1.29 million

Phase 5 — $1.5 million

Total — $8.5 million