The city of Daphne will vote on a measure to begin the planning and design of proposed recreation upgrades. The proposed $168,100 appropriation will be awarded to Volkert Inc. to design a master plan for long-awaited recreation improvements to Lott Park and the Al Trione Sports Complex, as well as the development of the 123-acre Park Drive site. At its June 8 meeting, the city’s finance committee approved the use of lodging tax revenue to fund the planning phase.

The ordinance was introduced at the Daphne City Council’s June 15 meeting and is scheduled for a vote at the next regular meeting in July.

“This is just the first phase,” Volkert Vice President Tim Patton said. “After the master planning is complete, the work will be divided into different design projects. Some different consultants will be doing some different designs for the parks. We don’t have the scope of work yet.”

In April the city selected Volkert as the overall project administrator for the upgrades, with Lose & Associates selected as the athletic field consultant and Hatch Mott MacDonald picked to work on the tennis court designs.

According to a draft summary of services provided by Volkert, the scope of work for the master planning phase includes site surveying, environmental investigations, civil engineering, landscape architecture and mechanical and electrical engineering. A park planning team workshop will also be part of the initial phase and will include an overview of plan options with the goal of developing a consensus on the necessary improvements at each park site.

Results from the workshop will be used to develop at least two alternative conceptual master plans for each park site, according to Volkert. While the proposed ordinance will likely not detail financial terms, Patton said it is an important first step in the process.

“The ordinance will develop the path forward for the different parks and what they will be able to fund,” Patton said. “Also there is some money in there for surveying the property and developing signage and branding.”

The city purchased the 123-acre Park Drive site adjacent to Wal-Mart for approximately $1.9 million in 2006. The city has also sought new baseball and softball fields, tennis court upgrades and more at both Lott Park and the Trione Sports Complex.

Daphne’s recreation upgrades have been in the works since at least February 2014, when the city raised its lodging tax from 4 to 6 percent in large part to fund park improvements. The city also reallocated the funds to allow 50 percent of lodging tax revenues to be used by the recreation department.

Monday night, Councilman John Lake and Mayor Dane Haygood argued over a proposed gazebo at the Park Drive site. Lake interrogated the mayor over a proposed gazebo he alleged had been budgeted but not constructed.

Haygood said his intent was for continuity in the proposals and explained the city was waiting for final plans from Volkert to ensure the design was consistent with unfunded plans.

“We are waiting to see Volkert’s high-level master planning to see the look and feel of the parks,” Haygood said. “They are waiting on sign packages to make sure there is some consistency in the look of those as well as what ideas they have for other structures at our other parks.”

Lake said he would like the gazebo to look similar to those at Centennial Park and Village Point.

“We are not going against the continuity, we are staying with it,” Lake said. “I would like to see something like that, a tangible structure, at the Park Drive site. If we’ve already budgeted the money and the beautification committee is ready to go, I’d like to just go ahead and do it.”

Haygood said he’d prefer to see Volkert’s master plan before spending the money on the gazebo. Later, using time designated for his own comments, Lake went further, describing what he said are “stalling tactics” keeping the gazebo from being built.

“The beautification committee has chosen a design and I don’t understand what is holding it up,” Lake said, invoking the previous mayor, who died in office in January 2013. “It was a dream of Mayor Bailey Yelding that he wanted to see done and it is one of mine. I also know the citizens there would appreciate some way of getting out of the weather.

“We are not asking for a lot,” Lake continued. “The money is already in the budget. All we are asking for is the money to be released so we can purchase it. Whatever is decided with the park, it can be done, and it can be made to match. I personally think the beautification committee needs to be allowed to do what it has decided on.”

Haygood said when the money was budgeted for the gazebo, the city did not expect to be at such an advanced stage in its parks plan.

“We just had a budgetary number that was allocated at the time,” Haygood answered. “There is more of a comprehensive plan strategy that we need to look at. I’m not sure where we come up with terms like ‘stalling tactics,’ because we certainly want to make it happen. We also want to spend citizens’ money the right way and get it right the first time.”

Councilman Robin LeJeune, the city’s liaison to the recreation board, announced the city would pursue the installation of a Frisbee golf course at the newly acquired park space in the Lake Forest subdivision.

“We are going to be talking to some of the disc golf organizations for the design,” LeJeune said. “The recreation board is really stepping up to make that first step into the new park. We want the citizens to know about the park so they can start using it.”