Residents discuss improving Omaha park to attract families

Lincoln high-rise hotel project delayed, developer says. (MGN)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Residents are requesting safety upgrades to an Omaha neighborhood park to attract more families to the area.

A recent survey revealed that some neighbors want to revamp Omaha's Dahlman Park, which has been nicknamed Mosquito Hill, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The park is overgrown with weeds, the playground equipment is worn and the hilly terrain borders a cliff.

Many residents surveyed see the public space as a derelict part of an otherwise increasingly popular area south of downtown Omaha.

Neighborhood residents have been holding a series of ongoing meetings to discuss transforming the parcels of land recently vacated by Grace University. The group envisions lower density housing on quieter streets and more home ownership.

The group of residents hasn't identified any potential funding sources, but they're working with consulting group RDG Planning & Design to discuss ideas to improve the area.

The group has suggested drastic changes to the park, including building about 15 new homes, walking paths, a terraced amphitheater, a multi-use field, a water fountain and a whiffle ball stadium, said RDG consultant Marty Shukert.

Deputy Omaha Attorney Michelle Peters said public parkland can't be re-purposed for private use, such as housing, unless it's done through special legislative action. The park area and former Grace property is owned by private developers and the Omaha Public Schools district.

Shukert acknowledged that an overhaul of Dahlman Park would be complicated, requiring the city, philanthropic groups and private funding sources to come together. But he said he thinks that a case could be made that park upgrades would benefit the public.

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