Riverview Park meeting is set in Coon Rapids

Riverview Park will be the first park to be reconstructed as part of the $17.2 million park bond referendum passed by Coon Rapids voters in November 2013.

Riverview Park was one of the locations for the city of Coon Rapids’ five Summer in the City programs, which took place in different parks last summer. Coon Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission members Neal Livermore (right) and Mike Jacobson (center) talk with resident Lori Ballejo about the $7.2 million park bond referendum. File photo

Riverview Park was one of the locations for the city of Coon Rapids’ five Summer in the City programs, which took place in different parks last summer. Coon Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission members Neal Livermore (right) and Mike Jacobson (center) talk with resident Lori Ballejo about the $7.2 million park bond referendum. File photo

The city will be hosting a public meeting Wednesday, Jan. 22, 7 p.m., at the Coon Rapids City Center for residents in the area of Riverview to get ideas on improvements to the park, which is scheduled for work this year.

Riverview is one of the parks listed as a top priority in a two-tier implementation schedule, starting in 2014 and finishing in 2020, because the city had planned to reconstruct the park in 2011.

But the project was put on hold indefinitely when there was not enough money to pay for it and that precipitated the Coon Rapids City Council’s decision to update the parks and trails master plan and ultimately, to seek voter approval last year for a bond issue to pay for a raft of improvements to parks and trails in the city.

Riverview Park went through the master planning process in 2011, including a neighborhood meeting in February of that year, and a concept design was developed.

It is this plan that will be presented to residents at the meeting to see if anything has changed since 2011 and if “there is anything we may have missed,” according to Public Works Director Tim Himmer.

Plans are to have the Riverview Park project under construction this coming summer, Himmer said.

Under the park bond referendum, the budget for the Riverview reconstruction is anticipated to be $1.4 million.

Major elements of the 2011 plan for Riverview include:

• Regrading the entire site.

• Two paved parking lots providing off-street parking for 213 spaces.

• Two entrances off 105th Avenue, with an existing vehicle access off Uplander Street, unpopular with residents living on that street, to be closed.

• Construction of a new playground area with separate play areas for various age groups.

• Hard surface court areas for tennis and basketball.

• New skate park with paved surface.

• Two new T-ball fields adjacent to the Little League fields.

• Multi-use building with community rooms for neighborhood meetings and gatherings, warming house, restroom and storage space.

• New internal trail system providing connection between Uplander and 105th.

• New drainage improvements to provide necessary storm water management.

• Increased landscaping throughout the park to provide buffering from adjacent homes.

The Coon Rapids National Little League has three baseball fields in Riverview Park, which is located on 105th, south of Coon Rapids Boulevard between Hanson Boulevard and Xavis Street.

Sand Creek Park is also among the top priority tier one projects and the Coon Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission and city staff hosted a meeting Monday with leading stakeholders to discuss preliminary drawings on the proposed renovations to the park.

With a $5.7 million budget, the Sand Creek project would completely redo the layout of the park to bring it up to modern day athletic field standards. New amenities and facilities proposed include softball, baseball, football, lacrosse, hockey/skating, tennis, playgrounds, picnic areas and a splash pad plus improved parking.

Taking part in the meeting were the Coon Rapids North Star Lions Club, who operate the concession stand at the park; the Fourth of July celebration committee; Coon Rapids Athletic Association; the Coon Rapids American Little League, whose fields are in the park; and other sports organizations that use Sand Creek Park, according to Himmer.

The city will schedule a meeting with neighboring residents on the plans for the park later this year, Himmer said.

Planning and the public process for the Sand Creek Park project is scheduled to be completed this year with construction in 2015 and 2016, he said.

Trail improvements totaling more than $1.6 million are also part of the tier one projects planned for implementation.

These include upgrading the Mississippi Regional Trail segment on Coon Rapids Boulevard from Hanson Boulevard to the Anoka border; construction of a new 85th Avenue trail to Kennedy Park, for which preliminary design work has been completed and for which the city has sought a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources grant on more than one occasion, and will try again this year; and construction of the Sand Creek Trail extension, for which the city has received a state grant that will pay 50 percent of the cost, from 121st Avenue near Fire Station 2 through Wilderness Park to the Main Street tunnel, where it will link up with planned trail work by Anoka County north of Main Street, Himmer said.

Construction on the trail through Wilderness Park could start in the fall of this year with the other two trails anticipated to be under construction in 2015.

Tier two projects include three larger cornerstone parks – Lions Coon Creek Park, where improvements are proposed to be done “in pieces,” Crooked Lake Park ($800,000) in 2017-2018 and Pheasant Ridge Park ($200,000) for 2017.

Staff has prioritized the other parks included in the referendum for redevelopment in tier two according to maintenance needs, according to Himmer.

Delta ($300,000) is on the 2016 schedule, Riverwind ($500,000) in 2016-2017, Woodcrest ($600,000) in 2018-2019 and Mason ($300,000) in 2018-2019.

The only new park included in the referendum, Boulevard Park, located on Coon Rapids Boulevard in front of the Coon Rapids Ice Center, will have grading and turf establishment done early on in the construction timeline because of its potential to host community events, like the Fourth of July celebration when Sand Creek Park is being redeveloped, Himmer said.

Amenities such as the splash pad, play area and general picnic space are likely to come later, he said.

Some $4 million remaining in the budget for trails expansion and gap filling is scheduled for 2017-2020, Himmer said.

The city is planning to sell the referendum bonds this year to take advantage of the still-low interest rates, according to Finance Director Sharon Legg.

The first tax impact from the referendum’s passage will appear on the 2014 property tax statements.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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