The Andover community is invited to city hall Thursday, Feb. 7 to see the master plan for a new 40-acre park.
The meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Conference Rooms A and B.
Click here to view master plan map of the park
When the Andover Park and Recreation Commission, the Andover City Council and a task force that included representatives from local football, lacrosse and soccer associations began planning for the new city park on the northeast corner of 161st Avenue and Tulip Street, the goal was to look beyond the athletic fields development.
The preliminary master plan includes playing fields, a multi-purpose building with concessions, rest rooms and storage space, a large play area, a small tot lot, a game court for half-court basketball, four square and hopscotch, sand volleyball court, nature trails, prairie grass and wetland demonstration areas, three frisbee disc golf baskets, a sledding hill in the winter and a storage building for public works and athletic associations.
Those involved in the early planning stages are generally happy with this early design, although they do have some suggestions and want to gather more input from Andover residents.
“I’m really excited about this park,” said Twila Hauck, who was on the task force and is a board member of the Andover Football Association and Andover Youth Lacrosse Association. Hauck likes that the park will service more than football, lacrosse and soccer players once all the future phase amenities are included, she said.
“It’s going to be fabulous. In 10 to 15 years when it’s done, it’s going to be as nice of a park as Bunker (Hills Regional Park),” said Hauck while acknowledging it is on a smaller scale.
Sean Begin, another member of the task force and director of coaching with the North Metro Soccer Association, said the soccer association is very pleased to be partnering with the city and the other sports associations to create fields for the multiple sports.
The first phase of the park could cost about $1.4 million, but that amount and how it will be paid for is still a moving target. The city’s 2013-2017 capital improvement plan approved last October budgeted $800,000 for the first phase with $700,000 slated to come from city funds and $100,000 from youth sports associations donations.
In general, the first phase focuses on grading and seeding much of the eastern half of the property for athletic fields. The areas are big enough for three full-size fields, which could be divided into smaller fields depending on the sport or age of the players.
The fields would have a north-south orientation and the lights would only be set up on the one southern field. The two adjoining northern fields would not get lights until the second phase.
Hauck is fine with the lights not going on the two northern fields in the first phase, but believes the wiring and not just the conduits should go in when the site is being graded to save money in the future.
Hauck and the council also feel the gravel parking areas should have lights in the first phase for safety and security reasons.
The gravel lot is currently designed to hold 182 cars, but more trees could be eliminated to add a couple dozen more spots. Councilmember Sheri Bukkila wonders if there will be enough parking.
Begin said Hawk Ridge Park has adequate parking even after the recent soccer fields expansion.
City Engineer/Public Works Director David Berkowitz said the lot at Hawk Ridge Park is designed to handle about 190 vehicles.
Hauck said the football association at Prairie Knoll Park paints one line down the center of the gravel lot so the middle two rows have a reference point on where to park. All other rows can then use these vehicles as a general reference.
The storage shed for public works and the athletic associations is the only other item slated for the first phase at this time.
The council Dec. 18, 2012, hired WSB & Associates for a not-to-exceed amount of $62,376 plus reimbursable expenses for permits and escrows. WSB’s job has been to design the master plan for the whole 40-acre park and to complete the more specific construction design documents for the first phase.
Jason Amberg, a senior landscape architect with WSB & Associates, Jan. 22 presented the master plan to the council and a few other members of the athletic fields task force that evaluated what level of need there was for more fields in Andover for youth football, lacrosse and soccer.
Amberg said the southwest corner of the park would be “a community hub” with the multi-purpose building, game courts, sand volleyball court and much more.
If people want to escape the large crowds gathered at the athletic fields or the multi-purpose building, they can trek to the north side of the property where prairie and wetland demonstration areas could be set up in future phases. While the trail loops in the southern half of the park would be paved, the trails on the north side would be a soft, natural surface.
Councilmember Julie Trude raised a hypothetical scenario of the youth athletic associations ultimately needing more than the three full-size fields and questioned if more fields could be fitted on this property.
Amberg said it would be difficult to fit another full-size field in the southwest corner of the park where the other amenities are slated to go because there is limited upland in that area and the city’s goal was to preserve as many trees as possible.
Councilmember Tony Howard wants the city to do its best on preserving the oldest trees on this property, even if it is just a row of them.
Although the future phases shows a lot of tree cover, Berkowitz said some trees will need to come down during site grading. New trees would be planted, but it will take time for them to grow.
Berkowitz said the city could set aside a little money each year and apply for grants to cover the costs of tree plantings and prairie and wetland restorations. Prairie restorations typically take a few years before they really look nice, he said.
Trude said this site would provide a lot of great opportunities for volunteer projects.
There was once a splash pad included in the design, which would have been a water recreational area for kids to run around. This was eliminated, said Ted Butler, chairperson of Andover Parks and Recreation Commission, because the general consensus was this amenity would be better suited for a more urban area such as Sunshine Park.
People approximately 600 to 1,000 feet from the proposed park will be notified of the Feb. 7 open house, but any Andover citizen interested in finding out more information or wishing to offer input can come to the meeting, said Todd Haas, assistant director of public works.
Amberg will be at this Feb. 7 meeting and the Feb. 19 council meeting to make presentations on the master plan.
The next step after Feb. 19 is for the council to approve proceeding with the final design of the first phase so that construction bids can be sought and work can begin this year.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]