Mt. Vernon Register-News

April 18, 2013

City moves forward on planning

By Tesa Glass
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — The second phase of the parks development plan started with a public hearing Wednesday night.

“We’re sincerely interested in trying to determine what citizens would like us to do in addressing leisure needs in the community,” said Parks and Facilities Director George Bryant. “Work planning for these parks are in the early planning stages. We don’t have a timetable to implement this, but it is important to look to the future. Then, when money is available and the community is ready to move forward, we have a plan for the parks that is thoughtful and has the public’s wants and needs in mind.”

Five parks were discussed during the hearing — Lincoln Park, Optimist Park, Woodglen Park, the proposed Waterworks Street park and the proposed North Davidson Drive park.

“This is our second meeting, and we have listened to the ideas from the first and working to incorporate them into a conceptual plan,” Bryant said. “At Lincoln Park, the community wants athletic facilities, soccer and flag football joint use fields, and the water retention area could be used as ponds and wetlands.”

A petting zoo has also been proposed, and Bryant said the University of Illinois Extension Service has offered to partner with the city on the project as well as other projects at Lincoln Park in the future.

“They are interested in partnering on the petting zoo, a butterfly garden and the water areas and ponds,” Bryant said. “It could be used by 4-H and other education programs with the Extension.”

Tennis courts have also been proposed.

“The high school tennis team has been interested in looking at those due to the poor condition of the present courts at Veterans Park,” Bryant said. “We have also had suggestions of a miniature golf course as an added feature to provide a unique opportunity in conjunction with the (Aquatic Zoo).”

Woodglen Park has not been developed at this time, only a “grassy area.”

“Some things the residents are interested in is a walking trail, basketball court, a picnic pavilion, and a future nature trail,” Bryant said.

Optimist Park is also considered a “community park” and plans proposed include a Disc Golf course, picnic pavilion, a small basketball court and a walking area. Bryant said the existing skate board area at Optimist Park may be moved in the future to the tennis court area at Veterans Park, should courts be built at Lincoln Park.

“A skateboard area is not in the conceptual design yet,” Bryant said. “The small concrete area at Optimist Park might not be in tune with the park design. Optimist Park is a neighborhood park, and Veterans Park is a community park. A skateboard area would be more fitting with that type of area.”

The property at Waterworks Road is better known as the former location of fleet services and public works departments. Bryant said plans so far call for a “unique park” at the property on the shores of the former city reservoir.

“It has a large body of water in the downtown area,” Bryant said. “We would like to capitalize on fishing there, with a pier in the water that would be handicapped accessible, a fish cleaning station, also a unique water garden and water features people can see.”

A spray pad that would be open seasonally and a playground have also been discussed by the public for the Waterworks Park.

“We’re discussing a theme, with the rocks there,” Bryant said. “It could have a picnic pavilion that overlooks the lake where there are piers on either side to allow fishing as well. There could also be an arboretum for people to walk through, and a gazebo.”

The city-owned property on North Davidson is located in a commercial area and also has a large body of water.

“We’re talking about a a walking and bike trail along there and connecting it with rest of the trail system,” Bryant said. “The hotels are near there, and we’re looking at ways to allow visitors in Mt. Vernon to walk to that area. We’re also discussing a small dog park that residents and travelers could use.”

Comments on the plans for the parks may be made by contacting Bryant at the Parks Office.