After much consultation, excitment, and speculation, plans to expand the park around Forrest Field are starting to take shape.
Town Council received the final draft concept design for the Lot 108 park plan update at Monday’s council meeting. Community stakeholders and service groups were consulted by the Town, and the plan was driven directly by that feedback.
When the update is complete, the area will feature a small warm up field to complement Forrest Field, a multi-sport court that will be mainly used for basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts, an expanded play area, outdoor exercise equipment, a bike pump track, a baseball diamond with a 225-foot outfield, and a volleyball court.
There will be no shortage of parking in the area either. Approximately 155 parking spaces will be at the field with additional space for busses.
The park will also feature an updated parks services building, new seating areas, picnic areas, as well as space to accommodate barbecues and food trucks. There was focus on creating community space within the park.
“The vision for the plan is an inviting community park that offers something for everyone and contributes to the health and well being of Ladysmith residents,” lead designer Megan Turnock said.
The update will be brought in through four phases. In the first phase, the Town will begin a rough grading plan, detailed layout of amenities, create an accessible trail that surrounds the park, and create parking spaces. Community groups have already raised $20,000 for the creation of the trail, and the total cost of phase one is estimated to be $28,000.
Jim Cram, treasurer for the Lot 108 Advisory Group said that this news will allow service groups to resume fundraising efforts for the park. Last summer the group held an October Fest fundraiser that brought in $9,000 to fund the perimeter trail.
“This was the first time in this town we’ve had all the groups working together on a project, so we want to get a lot of manpower out and get to work on it,” Cram said.
Although the process took longer than the group expected, Cram said they remain enthusiastic and dedicated to continuing work on the project.
“I’d like to thank the Town for their continued support so far,” he said. “This committee is not just a one shot thing, it’s going to continue to raise funds over the next — I don’t know how many — two or three years anyway to building other things on that park.”
Estimated total costs for the park expansion are $2.9 million on the low end and $3.5 million on the high end. The Town will likely seek grant funding for the project, as will service groups. If a grant is received for the entire project the work will be done all at once rather than the phased approach.
The Town did not provide specific timelines on the completion of the project or the beginning of phase one. A start date is expected in the 2020 budget.