Wednesday, February 3, 2010

$2.7M pavilion a priority in Ingalls proposal

Plans to complete harbor
By Paul Huggins, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily

A $2.7 million pavilion heads the list of revised plans for completing Ingalls Harbor.

Architect John Godwin unveiled the revisions, called “Completing the Vision,” to the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Other city and tourism officials will begin reviewing plans this month. Money to begin implementing plans could become available this fall.

Overall, the plan shows more than $7 million in improvements and includes nine family-sized pavilions, paved plazas, a building for a museum and a landmark lighthouse tower where the Ingalls lagoon meets the Tennessee River.

If the city makes improvements in phases, tourism officials see a 25,000-square-foot pavilion on the east side of the park as a high priority.

About the same size of the old Point Mallard ice rink, the pavilion could serve a number of existing events and help attract new events, said Tami Reist, visitors bureau president.

Examples she listed included the NAIA softball and soccer tournaments, which could use the pavilion for banquets; Riverfest could move judging inside it and eliminate the judges tent, allowing more room for barbecue teams or band viewing; and large local companies could stage corporate events there.

Decatur Parks and Recreation, leaders of some local festivals and officials that plan bass tournaments all had input in making the revisions, Reist said.

Several bureau board members mentioned the Decatur General Hospital Foundation could move its annual Gala fundraiser to the pavilion and save thousands of dollars spent renting the 22,000-square-foot party tent and support equipment.

Trudy Grisham, foundation president, said Gala costs $35,000 to $40,000 just to stage the event and that’s excluding a catering kitchen, which the pavilion would have.

“We would love to have a place to have our event without having to put up a tent,” she said.

The first master plan for Ingalls was unveiled in 2003 and revised two years later to remove one of the lagoons for mooring boats.

The first fishing tournament occurred in November 2007, and Ingalls has hosted major fishing tournaments each year since.

Five areas

Completing the Vision focuses on five areas:

Area 1, where Riverfest occurs, would receive $856,000 in improvements, including sidewalks, five family pavilions, underground utilities, vendor connections and landscaping.

Area 2 is the dirt field on the west side of the lagoon. It shows $3.3 million in capital improvements, including $1.6 million for a museum building, $450,000 for a lighthouse tower and $50,000 for a fountain play area, larger than the Delano Park splash pad and more like Olympic Park in Atlanta.

Area 3 is the parking area above the boat launch. It calls for $34,000 in landscaping and irrigation.

Area 4 is the area fronting Alabama 20 from both ends of the park. It shows $145,000 in landscaping and irrigation.

Area 5 is the new pavilion area, which moved away from the waterfront so it doesn’t block the river view from the rest of the park.

Godwin’s plan for the large pavilion shows stone walls consistent with what the city is using for new park signage. It would feature walls that can swing up and make the pavilion an open-air facility when weather permits.

“This would be a structure that really gives Ingalls another way of being used,” he said.

Money to pay for improvements could come from the $2-per-night hotel room fee that generated $448,000 in fiscal 2009 and more than $3 million since implemented in 2001.

The city used that money to pay to create Ingalls Harbor, and Reist said that debt will be paid off at the end of fiscal 2010, freeing up money to start a new phase.

“If we take this in phases, we can make this happen,” Reist said.

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