Archive for Saturday, April 24, 2004

Clinton park project seeks funding

Sports facilities, outdoor amphitheater included in master plan

April 24, 2004

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The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department has high hopes for the Clinton Reservoir area.

The department's 20-year plan for a 1,600-acre park complex east of the dam is so lofty that even Parks and Recreation officials wonder if it will fully materialize.

"We don't have dollar one," said Fred DeVictor, Parks and Recreation director.

The land itself was leased to the city by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until 2020, but the city does not have necessary funds to fulfill the master plan. If the plan were fully realized, the cost could exceed $33 million, according to department estimates.

Each item in the plan must be approved by the Lawrence City Commission and probably would require funding from private sources, DeVictor said.

One such item, an arboretum, is already in the works, thanks to a pledge of $50,000 from the Rotary clubs of Lawrence. The Rotarians decided to sponsor the arboretum to commemorate the club's centennial in 2005. Planting has begun at the site.

"The idea is to get about 100 plantings out there, different kinds of trees," said George Woodyard, Rotary committee chairman.

The park site stretches almost a mile from east to west, and almost three miles from north to south. The site originally encompassed about 1,500 acres, but the corps has given the city an extra plot of land next to the emergency dam spillway. According to DeVictor, the area now exceeds 1,600 acres.

The master plan calls for several sports facilities -- soccer fields, softball diamonds, gymnasiums, an outdoor ice rink, a skate park and a disc golf course. Other proposed features include an outdoor amphitheater, hiking and equestrian trails, playgrounds and picnic areas.

The complex also would include the Sesquicentennial Plaza, commemorating Lawrence's 150th birthday. A ceremony will take place at the site on the Sept. 18 anniversary, but the plaza will not be complete by then, according to DeVictor.

The complex already features several sports facilities, including Eagle Bend Golf Course, a model airplane flight field and a dog park.

DeVictor hopes other individuals and organizations will follow the Rotarians' lead and contribute to the plan's development. He points to the dog park as an example of the project's potential.

"It provides recreation for the dogs, but also socialization for the dog owners," he said.

DeVictor thinks the plan's other elements will have the same dual benefits of recreation and community building.

"It would be a great addition to the quality of life in Lawrence," he said.

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