Andover still considering name for new 40-acre park

The future home of three athletic fields and a city park on the northeast corner of 161st Avenue and Tulip Street in Andover is still just being referred to as the 40-acre site.

Most of the Andover City Council Tuesday evening was not ready to name the property the city bought for $305,000 in July 2012 from Legacy Christian Academy and has already spent $1.2 million to engineer and construct the first phase that includes three lighted fields for football, soccer or lacrosse games and a gravel parking lot.

Mayor Mike Gamache said this will be the biggest park development in Andover since Sunshine Park. Andover has 66 parks, although about 20 of those are undeveloped, but he saw that many parks are named after trees, creeks and animals.

Therefore, the Andover Parks and Recreation Commission’s top recommendation of Pine Hills Park North did not excite him.

“I was thinking let’s be creative and have fun with it,” he said.

Gamache asked the councilmembers to come back to the February council workshop meeting with their top three choices for more discussion.

The commission suggested Pine Hills Park North for the 40-acre site so it would be easier to find. Commission Chairperson Ted Butler said someone emailed this suggestion to him. The city had asked the community for suggestions and about 50 different names were submitted.

Councilmember Julie Trude said she can do a Web search for “Pine Hills Park” and find the existing smaller neighborhood park across the street from this site. She thinks it would take some time for Internet searches to get people to the new site.

“I think Pine Hills North is a fantastic name,” Trude said. agreeing with the commission that any individual recognition should happen by naming fields or areas of the park rather than the entire park itself.

Councilmember Mike Knight has acknowledged that there should be a directional sign at the corner of 161st Avenue and Round Lake Boulevard so it is easier for out-of-town visitors to locate.

City Administrator Jim Dickinson said this is on county right of way so this would have to be brought up with it.

Knight wondered if there are any prominent veterans in Andover’s history. The city will talk to VFW posts in Coon Rapids and Ham Lake to determine this.

Whatever the name is, “sports complex” should be added to the end, Knight said.

Trude said the master plan shows that this site will attract more than sports teams. Future concepts include nature trails, prairie grass and wetland demonstration areas, a 2,000 square-foot, multi-purpose building with concessions, restrooms and storage, a picnic gazebo, sledding hill, playground, game courts and sand volleyball court.

“It will be more than a sports complex,” Councilmember Tony Howard said.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]