Plans for 10-acre city park could include unique fitness option

Plans are in the works for a new 10-acre city park on land in west Lawrence just north of 5100 Overland Drive, the proposed location for a a new police headquarters.

Planning for a new city park in northwest Lawrence is in the works, including an idea that would provide a unique exercise trail.

The city plans to devote 10 acres of its 29-acre property near the intersection of Overland and Wakarusa drives for the park, and one design concept the recreation department is considering would include a fitness integration trail through the woods.

Whatever the final park looks like, city officials said park space is lacking in the area and it’s important to provide some kind of outdoor amenities, whether that be trails, playground equipment or picnic shelters.

“We see a need for a developed park in this area,” Director of Parks and Recreation Derek Rogers said. “There’s been a lot of multi-family residential housing that’s developed rather densely in the last few years in this area.”

The park will likely be located on the northern part of the property, which is wooded with evergreens. Fitness integration trails typically have outdoor exercise equipment for strength training exercises such as pull-ups and leg presses placed along the trail.

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Rogers said the idea for such a trail came from considering what isn’t currently available in Lawrence. He added, however, that the ultimate decision of what will be done with the 10 acres will come from listening to what amenities community members say they want the park to have.

“It’s purely at the conceptual level,” Rogers said. “What would be some of the possibilities out there, and what’s lacking in Lawrence?”

The city has several trails, including those at “Dad” Perry Park and the Prairie Park Nature Center, but creating a trail system with exercise stations would be unique for the city. Rogers said another component to consider is that the park will be next to the new police headquarters, and he said it would be nice to create a park design that would allow police to interact with the community.

The property at Overland and Wakarusa drives, which is just west of Free State High School, is the future home of the Lawrence police department’s new headquarters. Preliminary plans for the headquarters envision it will be built on the southern portion of the property. The City Commission voted last month to designate 16 acres of the property as the future site of the police headquarters.

Rogers said it’s too early to say when the park will be open, but that concepts for the park’s design will be discussed in relation to the upcoming site plan for the police headquarters. He said there will also be a community forum to gather feedback from the public on potential designs and amenities.