Park Board reviews plans for athletic complex and work on Memorial Park

By Patrick Fisher

The New Prague Park Board reviewed plans for an athletic complex and redevelopment of Memorial Park at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

The park board, along with the Park Facilities Task Force reviewed the two plans. The task force had been created some years ago with the responsibility to identify the needs of and for different parks in New Prague. Besides reviewing the plan the two groups also discussed a proposed referendum that would include the two plans and be placed on the November ballot.

Bill Sanders of Sanders, Wacker and Bergley presented the master plan for Memorial Park to members of the park board and the task force.

Sanders explained that there would be three guidelines for the redevelopment of the park:

• a place of heritage for the city

• a community gathering place

• a place of history.

The plan would include a band shell, which would be the focal point for the park and an important architectural feature. The project would be done in phases and would cost an estimated $1.6 million.

The task force and park board had some questions and concerns ranging from safety to noise. One concern was about safety around a pond storm water holding area. Sanders said the pond was developed to maintain and not flood the park area. Another was about noise from Main Street, which could be cut down by landscaping in the park.

There was also a concern about whether the Veterans Memorial should be moved near the old armory, currently the New Prague Area School District office. Sanders said the memorial was important to a walkway planned for the area, since the memorial would be a destination.

Another concern was whether there would be enough room for the annual Memorial Day service after the park was redeveloped. It was suggested that part of the service could be held in the new band shell.

The plan for the athletic complex was also reviewed, as well as a cost estimate for the complex and a reduced cost estimate. The complex, which would cover about 40 acres and cost an estimated $2 million, would include softball fields, baseball fields, soccer fields and other areas. Also included in the complex would be lighting and irrigation, which would be necessary for seeding and maintaining the fields.

Steve Bruchman, a member of the task force, said there was a need for the athletic complex. He said that community education is growing at 5 to 6 percent per year and there are 16,000 participants from the school district, with 5,000 in the city. Also, community recreation events are bringing 400 to 700 people into town each evening.

Task force member John Fitzgerald said there was never a good time for tax increases, but next time it would be more expensive and the complex was something overdue.

Jim Morris of the task force thought the referendum was an investment in the community, since an enhanced park adds to the value of the community and it’s an attraction that draws business to the city.

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