Open House held for park referendum

By Patrick Fisher

The second of three open houses for the New Prague Park Referendum was held on Thursday, Oct. 7, at the New Prague Library’s meeting room.

About 20 people attended the evening meeting, and many had questions about the proposed $3.5 million project. If approved by voters on November 2, the referendum calls for the building of an athletic complex southwest of New Prague and the redevelopment of Memorial Park.

The complex would be located on 40 acres of land the city has purchased near the intersection of Le Sueur County Road 29 and Highway 13/21, with work on the project beginning next spring. The complex would include an adult/Babe Ruth baseball field, four adult/youth softball fields, two full-sized soccer fields and an open fence baseball field that would also be part of a multi-purpose field. Completion date for the complex would be in the fall of 2006, which would allow the grass to take root on the fields.

The second phase of the two-phase plan would begin either in the fall of 2006 or spring of 2007. It would include renovation of the western portion of Memorial Park, between Park Drive and Lincoln Ave. S.

Plans include a trail, a formal pedestrian entrance from Main Street that would line up with Pershing Avenue, a bandshell, a ball field and reconstruction of the street in front of the Park Ballroom and the New Prague Golf Club.

Representing the Park Referendum Task Force at the meeting was Jim Westall, Gary Meyer, chair of the task force, and New Prague City Council representative Kay Wilcox.

In answer to a question Meyer informed the audience that if the referendum failed, the 40 acres would still be earmarked for a park.

Several members of the audience asked why Memorial Park was to be redeveloped. They felt it was fine as is. It was also noted that during Dozinky the park was packed with people attending the different events, from DJ’s Tug-of-War, to the Rick Tietz Alumni Classic Softball Tournament.

Meyer said that the softball tournament had grown to the point that it was difficult to have all the teams play there. The complex would allow for two more fields for the tournament.

Audience members thought that Memorial Park was a good central location for the softball tournament and that some of the other fields around town could probably be used.

Also discussed was the proposed location of the bandshell. Audience members asked who would use it and why was it being located in the center of Memorial Park.

Wilcox said that the bandshell would be used by different groups, including the New Prague Community Band, art groups and for weddings. She said that while the eastern part of the park, near the volleyball fields, would be a nice location the western part of the park would allow for a bigger area.

Meyer answered questions about parking in Memorial Park. He said that Park Drive, the one-way road, would be improved with a curb and gutter, and more parking would be made available.

We’re trying to have this be the center point of the block

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