Recreation themes set for back-to-back NP council conferences this week


North Platte City Council members will meet on consecutive Monday and Tuesday evenings, both times directly or indirectly relating to community leisure matters.

A no-vote working session Monday at 5:30 p.m. will include presentations on a proposed seasonal ice rink at Centennial Park and a bicycle motocross track that was proposed but sidetracked four years ago.

The council’s second regular session in October, taking place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, will include a second round of debate on the rezoning and annexation of urban land, which in the 1980s was associated with outdoor recreation plans but is now for housing is provided.

Both sessions at City Hall’s Council Chamber, 211 W. Third St., will be shown on Spectrum cable channel 180 and the city’s YouTube channel.

NPIce Inc., which will start Monday’s working session, will describe its vision to temporarily install a 90-by-70-foot mobile ice rink at Centennial Park’s old tennis courts at West Francis and Union Streets.

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The group’s website says the rink can be torn down in a crate and stored outside of the winter months. It is planned to be open evenings and weekends December through February, with special events, ice skating lessons, and ice hockey and figure skating opportunities.

NPIce received grants totaling $8,800 in July to support the purchase and promotion of its ice rink from Lincoln County’s lodging tax funds administered by Visit North Platte.

Monday’s second presentation will be from 308 BMX, which unsuccessfully secured a 2018 city license agreement to build a bicycle motocross track on the city’s 95.3-acre “South Park” site near West Walker Road and Buffalo Bill Avenue requested.

Unlike then, the BMX group is eyeing the city’s Happy Hound Retreat Dog Park north of the Dowhower Softball Complex to find their route, Mayor Brandon Kelliher told The Telegraph.

He said the dog park on the north side isn’t used much, partly because the city’s efforts to eradicate sandburs there have not been successful. North Platte also operates Waggin’ Tales Bark Park in Centennial Park.

Should the council eventually decide that a BMX track would be a better use, “we’re going to put up a dog park somewhere else, probably as part of Cody Park or something,” Kelliher said.

The 308 BMX group’s 2018 South Park proposal ran into trouble after missing a deadline set by the council to raise $188,000 for its project.

When group leaders asked for a licensing agreement to help them secure grants and other funding, the council ruled the request 4-4.

Then-Mayor Dwight Livingston cast the voting vote against the license, saying he had doubts the group could raise the funds needed for construction.

The South Park site will reappear Tuesday night when the council again takes ordinances to repurpose the Walker Road tract for a “proposed unit development,” annexing it and two private parcels on either side.

Both were linked to plans to declare all three lots and a larger area south of Interstate 80 for tax increase funding. City officials said they are eyeing housing on the South Park site to further attack North Platte’s housing shortage.

But the required “substandard and tainted” study was dropped from the Oct. 4 agenda amid questions about whether the Walker tract — acquired in two stages in 1983 and 1988 — can be legally used for anything but parks and recreation.

Both of these purchases followed the repurposing of portions of Centennial Park, which was purchased in 1966 with help from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The council sold a portion south of Great Plains Health for medical buildings in 1983, and five years later extended West Francis Street over the north edge of the park.

In order to divest or reuse these parts of Centennial Park, the city had to purchase land of greater value and use it “forever” for parks and recreation, according to an official with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and two North Platte medics who took part in 1983 were act.

The city could get around that condition by buying another piece of land and transferring the recreational-only restriction to it, added Schuyler Sampson, a recreational games and parks planner.

City voters rejected a proposal in May 1990 to purchase the nearby Indian Meadows nine-hole golf course (then called the Willow Greens) and add nine more holes on the Walker tract.

City officials continue to evaluate their options regarding the South Park site, Kelliher said last week.

But whether it’s annexed has nothing to do with how the city can and can’t use it, he told the council Oct. 4.

The rezoning of the Walker tract also does not affect the legal issues because parks and recreational uses are permitted in any residential area, planning administrator Judy Clark said.

On October 4, in the first round, the council members approved the rezoning ordinance with a score of 5:2 and the first approval for the annexation with a score of 6:1. The latter was demanded by the two adjacent property owners and the city.

Any regulation would require another “yes” vote on November 1 unless the Council decides on Tuesday to forego that final vote and adopt it immediately.