Work to shape improvements to Northam Park's drainage, athletics fields and tennis complex is expected to yield potential design options by early summer.

In December, the city entered into an $81,500 contract with MSA Sport, a division of Cincinnati-based MSA Design, to take a look at Northam Park and see how it could be tweaked for better functionality.

Jeff Anderson, the city's parks-planning and -development manager, said the firm already has met with several groups of parks users and has gathered input that will help determine how best to enhance the park, which officials call a "community hub."

"The consultant is currently going through the input that was received," Anderson said. "They will be using the input to develop some initial preliminary design options that will be reviewed with the user groups and eventually the community as a whole.

"We are anticipating a community meeting with some potential design options to be held in late May or early June."

Anderson said he doesn't have "any definitive findings to share at this time."

When MSA Sport was hired, city officials said the intent was to study and develop a long-term plan for improving and renovating facilities within the park.

The project also was expected to bring forth a schematic design of infrastructure improvements for the fields and the park's tennis-court complex and examine potential improvements to open field space south of Northam's tennis complex for use as athletics and community-event space.

Specifically, MSA Sport was directed to look at:

* Improving grading and drainage for the tennis complex and surrounding park space.

* Renovating 12 clay tennis courts to improve drainage and provide underground irrigation. Renovations also would include such related features as fencing, nets and posts.

* Renovating the tennis-complex central plaza space to improve conditions and provide an accessible route to the tennis courts and other site amenities.

* Renovating or replacing the tennis office and the Northam Park service building, including a new main entry on the south side of the tennis complex.

"We're looking at what is the infrastructure that park needs to operate as a fields-sports, events and tennis facility," City Manager Steve Schoeny said in December. "It really is just a contract to look at how do we fix the drainage and other issues with the fields. What buildings are needed to support the fields and the tennis facility? Then what do we need to do to keep the courts viable for the next however-many years?"

At that time, Schoeny said, he didn't anticipate the recommendations from the study to yield anything like the roughly $7.25 million in upgrades the city put into Northam in 2017.

Those included the construction of a new playground, a plaza, the reconstruction of Tremont Pool, a pool drop-off area and a reading garden outside the Upper Arlington Public Library's main branch.

Schoeny said the new study would look at the long-term plan for Northam's functionality and what buildings are needed to support those functions.

Anderson said he expects MSA Sport to have a report with recommendations to City Council this summer.

"The goal is to have a vision package complete to share with City Council summer of this year," he said. "We do not have a definitive timeframe on when any specific improvements from this study will be initiated, though one of the goals of the final document is to have phasing concepts and potential cost information that can be used to budget projects within the 10-year capital-improvement plan."

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