Village Park Vision Closer to Becoming a Reality
Read the in-depth details on the Village Park redevelopment, including possible construction costs and a timeline. The multmillion dollar reconstruction project has been nearly finalized, but actual construction will take years, officials say.
From an enormous baseball diamond complex to a splash-pad water feature, the Sussex Parks and Recreation Department is getting close to finalizing what Village Park could potentially look like after a major reconstruction project.
Parks officials have been hard at work since January reviewing and revising 3-D designs of the park, and, according to Parks and Recreation Director Amy Flaherty, there are just a few more steps, including additional public input, before the plan could be come a reality.
“The Park Board gave conditional approval of this plan, so now we’re going to get a cost estimate,” Flaherty said. “In August, we’d like to get this approved by the Park Board and the Village Board, so that way, as we finalize our capital budget between 2013 and 2020, we could get this in there and potentially put funds aside for that.”
Engineering firm R.A. Smith National estimated the project would cost $11 million during the preliminary planning stages in September, but Flaherty said it’s likely that number could change. The reason for the 3-D, detailed designs is to get a more specific estimate, and a completely different design firm, Stantec, is producing the new estimate.
A Major Upgrade
The park, however, is truly getting a complete overhaul, with the most prominent feature being the new baseball diamond quadplex. Situated on 20 acres of farmland east of Faith Lutheran Church, Flaherty says the four new diamonds would likely be the first to be constructed in the multiple-phased construction project of the park.
“I think the biggest thing, of course, is the additional park land we’re looking to acquire and put the baseball quadplex on,” Flaherty said. “Right now, obviously the way the diamonds are laid out, they’re not the most conducive to tournaments or large events, so that’ll be really nice to be able to accommodate bigger groups. We’ll also be putting lights in so we can accommodate people later into the evening and get more teams in.”
“For the immediate future, we don’t know how this will affect taxpayers because we don’t know what we’ll be asking for."
The quadplex would also have things like additional parking, a building for concessions and new scoreboards. The park’s existing baseball diamond would also get an upgrade.
And down by the current baseball diamond is one of the most exciting features included in the park design: a splash-pad. After hearing multiple requests from residents for a public pool, Parks representatives tried to meet citizens halfway.
“The splash-pad, of course, is what everyone is talking about,” Flaherty said. “We chose a splash pad rather than a pool, first of all, for space. It’s a big park, but we’re trying to cram a lot into it. Another reason is the maintenance cost is so much lower for a splash pad, not only for staffing, because we wouldn’t need a lifeguard, but also just maintenance things like pool pumps and equipment.”
The park might also get other major additions, like a completely redesigned Lions Open Air Shelter, soccer fields, tennis and sand volleyball courts, new storage facilities, additional pathways and more playgrounds.
Why Redesign the Park?
Much like the initial reaction to the Main Street reconstruction project, residents may begin to ask why Sussex is planning for a new Village Park in the first place.
Flaherty says is all about not being able to accommodate current demands and being proactive about Sussex’s quickly growing population.
“The village is expanding, and we’re trying to create a park for generations to come,” Flaherty said. “This can be something that, for the next 50 years, people can utilize. We’re not trying to just think about the ‘now.’ Also, there are so many groups that come to us that we just can’t accommodate. We’re overburdened with our facility use.”
Both Flaherty and Village Administrator Jeremy Smith say this isn’t one large project that will happen all at once, but rather a multiple-phased construction commitment that could take 20 to 50 years to complete.
For that reason, Smith said the reconstruction project would not go to referendum unless Sussex officials decide to take on a large portion of the project in a short amount of time.
“At this time, the cost is going in our capital budget, but this isn’t going to be something where we shut the park down and do it all at once,” Flaherty said.
“For the immediate future, we don’t know how this will affect taxpayers because we don’t know what we’ll be asking for," she added. "We did break it down into multiple phases that we thought would be beneficial for construction. And, of course, we’ll do any grant writing we can and hopefully get donations and naming rights.”
Smith says Sussex officials will be at village events like National Night Out throughout the summer to take public input and comments on the project.