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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, is getting close to finalizing what 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 .

“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.

Pete June 21, 2012 at 05:53 PM
How in the world can Smith and Flaherty project constuction costs over a 20 - 50 year period of time? This sounds like a first year undergraduate civil engineering project.They really can't expect people to take them seriously about this or can they? The more they explain themselves the more this sound like a liberal pipe dream that will sap Sussex tax payers for generations. Mr. Goetz it's time to ask for resignations! Both need to go and go now before the get this idiotic 20-50 year plan approved.
Mike B June 21, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Add your comments over on the other thread where everyone else is: http://sussex.patch.com/articles/photos-see-the-future-of-village-park-in-3-d
Bradley Peil June 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
BAH the public pool should be elsewhere. like i dunno.... by the cannery.... anywhere near the bugline trail? perhaps south of main behind piggly wiggly. there's a hay field there. plenty of room for parking, pool, splash pad.
Luke June 21, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I love the splash pad for all the reasons mentioned in the article.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 11:24 PM
There's a cool looking one in Milwaukee on Humboldt (by UWM where I went to school), and it's always packed with area kids.
Jodi June 21, 2012 at 11:57 PM
We go to Kinderpark in Germantown for the splash pad. There's always lots of kids. The playground equipment is next to it, so the kids can easily go from one activity to the next. I think a splash pad at Village Park would be great! Regarding a pool in Sussex- aren't there plans to begin the process of building a YMCA in Sussex next year?
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Good memory! There are plans to start fundraising next year for a YMCA in Sussex (Patch article here: http://patch.com/A-qRrY), but who knows if they'll live up to their promise. Hopefully - we really need it.
Richard Head June 22, 2012 at 01:59 AM
@Jodi, this is the reason we need to improve our parks. Keep our residents in our village instead of traveling to other communities.
Mike B June 22, 2012 at 02:15 AM
There is no public pool and never will be. The Splash Pad is completely different. There's no actual water except what sprays out of various objects. It then just goes right down the drain to get recycled. It's for little kids so it makes perfect sense to be in the park near the playground.
Justme June 22, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Ok...so fundraising for a splash pad sounds fine and do-able but all the other extravagances? I have to agree with Pete...a very expensive pipe dream. I live near a tennis court in Sussex and it's rarely used and I almost never see people playing volley ball in the one court there is at Village Park. Why in the world would we need 4? The tennis courts are often empty as well. And, of course, there are several courts available at the highschool that I don't think gets much use outside of the team and gym class. Seems kids may be spending so much "free" time with organized sports or video games. Would love to see kids outside playing more around Sussex but don't think the old saying "build, and they will come" applies much anymore. I think it's kind of sad, actually.
Mike B June 22, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Only thing I can think of is that they may be thinking that if they build this huge new park, that we'd get people from other communities coming to Sussex specifically for the tennis courts and baseball diamonds. This would open up the possibility of holding tournaments and other things in the park that cannot be done right now. Village Park could turn into a whole sports complex that could host soccer, baseball and tennis tournaments with people from all over. I don't know if it would happen, but that's my guess anyway.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 02:10 PM
@Mike, that's right. Everything from the baseball diamonds to the new Lions Open Air Shelter will have opportunities to generate a lot more income once they're upgraded. Flaherty said the Lions shelter is currently booked almost every weekend. Creating more meeting space there, along with a new building at the south end of the park, could create a new source of income for the village that would last for decades.
Bradley Peil June 22, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I've lived by the spash park in jackson, watched it being built. my kids loved going there in the summer.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I could see how kids love them, but at first, I was totally confused. However, when you look at this one from the Summerfest grounds (PHOTO: http://i.imgur.com/n8UcQ.jpg) or from Milwaukee's Gordon Park on Humboldt (http://goo.gl/OrF9m), it looks pretty cool.
Common sense sussex June 23, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Just reading through this article and her comments but lets look deep into her history she did a project like this in elm grove and left. She is using this as a stepping stone for another job in a bigger community. If she loves our area so much why not live here and help pay for it. I have heard alot of her comments and think that she really does not understand our community. We need to band together and stop this as it will cause more harm and push our residents to other local parks to use.

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