The Denison City Council approved a $75,000 contract with Denison-based Earnhart Built on Monday for the construction of a new bathroom and storage facility in Forest Park. The new construction project comes about six months after the city installed new playground equipment, a splash pad and other amenities in the venerable park.


City Manager Jud Rex said the new bathrooms are in response to the heightened use of the park, especially by families and children, since those improvements were installed last year.


“Since we installed the playground and splash pad, we’ve considering these new bathrooms there,” Rex said. “We wanted to see what the news was, and the overwhelming success of the splash pad led us to pursue this.”


The new bathrooms will be installed just east of the playground and feature a separate storage area at the rear of the facility. The restrooms will include units for men and women and a third restroom for family use, Rex said. The facility will include changing stations for babies and small children, Rex added.


During the interim, the city placed portable restrooms on the site. Munson Stadium, located adjacent to the park, has restrooms but they are only available when the stadium itself is open. The next closest public restrooms are located a few blocks away at Heritage Park. This lack of quality restrooms posed an issue as many visitors to the park would change clothes in order to make use of the splash pad, Rex said.


Beyond the additional traffic that the playground and new amenities have brought to one of Denison’s oldest public parks, Rex said Forest Park is also used for larger gatherings due to its size. As an example, he said Texoma Soccer held its end of year ceremonies at the park last year.


The city solicited bids for the project in early December and received only the one bid from Earnhart for the project. The $75,000 contract cost includes $5,000 for pre-construction costs, $40,000 in construction manager fees and $30,000 in construction supervision. Documents for Monday’s meeting say that Earnhart expects to break ground on the project within 30 to 60 days, with construction expected to be complete within 150 days.


Following the construction of the restrooms, Rex said the city has no plans for additional improvements to the park. Rex noted that one of the largest draws for the park is its large green space and trees. As such, the city wants to preserve as much of that as possible.


During the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Kris Spiegel expressed concerns about water drainage and asked city staff to consider this in finalized designs.


“With the pitch of the room, it looks like it is going back toward the park and I know we are already having issues there,” Spiegel said.