Springfield investing $1.2 million in park improvements

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Skate area, pump track among additions planned for city recreation sites.

Parks in every part of Springfield will see improvements in the months ahead, as the city adds new equipment and creates landscapes to enhance community recreational amenities.

City commissioners authorized a total expenditure of $1.2 million for upgrades to Sherman Avenue Park, Davey Moore Park and for work already underway at the Snyder Park Tennis Courts.

Assistant Mayor Rob Rue said the city’s investment is aimed at community youth.

“We always hear there’s not enough for the youth to do, but the city is investing in these three quality parks to make them even better quality,” he said.

Commissioner Krystal Phillips noted the dollars will impact “across multiple sides of town, which I’m really excited to see.”

A concrete skatepark will be constructed at Davey Moore Park, at a cost of $300,000.

City Manager Bryan Heck offered an explanation in answer to a question asked about why the city opted for a skatepark rather than a water play feature.

“We looked at splash pad options,” he said. “Splash pads are difficult to maintain. We’ve had nothing but problems with maintenance of the one at Snyder Park. So we were looking for other options that could reach more people.”

He said additional improvements are planned there, too.

“We’ll be coming back with some playground improvements and so forth at Davey Moore as we add unique aspects and features to each of our parks. I think that’s what’s important,” Heck said.

Two city residents pointed out that Davey Moore Park is in need of an additional shelter house. Phillips offered reassurance that their concerns will be taken into account.

“Being someone born and raised in the south side of Springfield, I am invested in that, so know you will always have that voice here on city commission to advocate," said Phillips. “There are so many things coming down the pike to improve the entire city. I’m certainly not going to let the south side go without proper representation."

She expressed excitement that the Sherman Avenue Park will see the addition of a pump track, which Heck explained is bigger than a skate ramp, taking up more space and more terrain, and appropriate for use by bikes, scooters and skateboards. Commissioners approved spending $350,000 for construction of the project.

Phillips noted that the city is also looking at upgrades to Rose Park on the city’s east side.

“It’s exciting to me as well to know that all parks in Springfield are being served,” she said.

Rue said city staff works hard to creatively spend money all over the community, including these parks.

“When you see this design for the Davey Moore Park, you’ll be blown away. It is amazing,” Rue said. “They are looking at how to best serve the entire community. It may not have been that way in the past, but I know it’s focused on now.”

Because of price increases, additional funding was also approved for the Snyder Park Tennis Court improvements already under construction. When the $505,238 work is complete, several tennis courts will have been converted for pickleball play to accommodate more recreational participation.

Commissioners also approved expenditures for the Springfield City Hall Plaza, site of multiple recreational and festival events annually.

Work to repair the underground city parking garage to address serious structural issues offered an opportunity for the city to improve the plaza space above at the same time. Both projects will get underway this spring with anticipated completion in 2024. Total expenditure for the garage repair and plaza redesign and construction will come in at an estimated $6.2 million.

The outcome of plaza work will make the space more useful year-round and will include enhanced lighting, new green spaces and plants, artwork, a new fountain and weather resistant seating to encourage people to gather in the Core Block of the city.

City officials acknowledged that 2023 events normally held on the plaza will be displaced temporarily due to the construction, but CultureFest, National Night Out and other events are expected to continue to be centered downtown on the streets and sites adjacent to the plaza site.

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