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Riverdale introduces plans for Wilson Road park

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

After eight months of design and stakeholder meetings, the Riverdale City Council has received a conceptual master plan for a new park on Wilson Road. It will replace, and add to, amenities once found at Travon Wilson Park, which the city sacrificed to construct the Riverdale Town Center project.

According to City Manager Iris Jessie, the park's master plan was introduced to the city council during it's May 10 regular business meeting. If approved, the park will be built in two phases on 66 acres of green space surrounding Wilson Road, she said.

"It [the conceptual plan] was work done with the help of a steering group," Jessie said. "They had their first meeting in October of last year. They talked about the things they would like to see in a new park and gave those ideas to the consultant (Lose & Associates of Lawrenceville, Ga.). They came back with recommendations, tweaked those, and came back to the council with those plans."

The city council will consider the formal adoption of the park's master plan during its next regular business meeting on May 24, according to Jessie.

Jessie said site work and construction of the first phase of the park is estimated to cost $2.5 million, and will consist of: Front entry into the park with signage, enhanced landscaping, and a flag court; a 250-foot-wide baseball field; parking; pavilions and picnic areas; an "open play lawn" for unstructured activities; a full-size football/multi-purpose field with built-in bleachers; concessions and restrooms; a decorative paved plaza; and a children's playground.

According to Jessie, the estimated cost of the second phase of the park has yet to be determined by city officials. However, plans for the second phase include: A "Sportsfield Complex" consisting of a 300-foot-wide baseball field with removable sport fencing and a multi-purpose field insert; walking trails; a concessions building with restrooms; a community building; and more parking.

Jessie said the new park, which is yet to be named, will have a little more than twice the green space of Travon Wilson Park -- the land of which has become part of the Riverdale Town Center project. In addition to having more green space, Jessie said the new park will have safety features and handicap accessibility unavailable at Travon Wilson Park.

"I think that, probably, the best feature is that it will be accessible to people with disabilities, because the old park was not," Jessie said. "The fields were not, the bathrooms were not. It [Travon Wilson Park] was landlocked, so there was no room for expansion. The parking was also very inadequate. Parking at the old park was all along the street, which was adjacent to many of the fields.

"It [the new park] separates parking from pedestrians," she added. "It protects the kids from going across the street from one field to another."

Eventually, the new park would also include an indoor facility with a walking track, game rooms, a dance studio, and adult and children's gymnasiums, Jessie said. Once plans are approved, the city will issue a request for proposals for engineering and architectural work, she said.

Tentatively, construction on the first phase of the park could begin as early as January 2011, according to Jessie. She said the conceptual park master plan can be viewed on the city's web site (www.riverdalega.gov), where citizens can leave comments and suggestions.