The City of Manhattan discussed possible improvements to CiCo Park with Riley County commissioners Thursday morning.
Manhattan Parks and Recreation director Eddie Eastes and Jason Hilgers, the deputy city manager, outlined some of the improvements looked at in the city’s latest Parks and Recreation Facility Feasibility Study and what role the county could play in future enhancements.
For CiCo Park, which is jointly owned and managed by the City of Manhattan, USD 383 and Riley County, Hilgers said improvements to the pool there could include a larger indoor aquatic center.
Hilgers said a similar pool was proposed and put on a ballot in the 1960s and the vote was close.
“It was voted on in the 1960s and obviously did not pass,” he said. “But what I found interesting is that there were 7,000 people that voted: 3,700 against, 3,300 for.
“That’s more people than vote today in our normal city elections.”
Other proposals for park and recreation improvements have come and gone since, but Hilgers say the interest hasn’t wavered.
“We’ve been talking about these concepts and ideas in this community for 50 years,” he said. “And really, today, again, we want to focus on what your interests are, what your vision is for CiCo.”
Commissioners were supportive of the concepts, but did caution about the county’s ability to help with such projects, especially with a looming state-imposed property tax lid and its technicalities still being ironed out in Topeka.
“This is a nice concept,” Commissioner Ron Wells said. “If we could find some more parking…”
“Ron, you make a great point,” he said. “And it’s something we even talked about after talking with the (school) district about this site. We’ve all used that parking lot. We all recognize the inefficiencies of the current layout of that parking lot because there is no layout. It’s basically whoever gets there first kind of starts the angle and starts the proximity of the parking.
“I don’t believe we would move forward with an improvement (at CiCo Park) without addressing that parking lot.”
Along with potential improvements to CiCo Park, the city’s feasibility study also outlines enhancements to other parks and schools.