08/15/06 — Community can add thoughts to park plan

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Community can add thoughts to park plan

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 15, 2006 1:52 PM

Every so often, as drivers along Ash Street pass Stoney Creek Park, they catch a glimpse of a woman jogging with a stroller or a group of men walking under the trees.

Newly created Stoney Creek Park Alliance member Dr. Peter Roethling said soon, more than just a few park-goers will have a place to enjoy a relaxing afternoon.

"I would be optimistic that within the next year or two we can have some very visible and dramatic changes (at Stoney Creek)," he said. "That's the big goal."

The idea of a new and improved park was first realized last November, when City Council members gave the design from Kimley-Horn and Associates preliminary approval. Their plan featured a dominant six-acre lake in the middle of the property -- surrounded by trails, walking paths, a community garden area and a passive lawn.

The new look for Stoney Creek also includes a disc golf course, which plays like golf but uses Frisbees aimed at chain baskets, and an informal stage area.

Dr. Roethling said the design still represents the ideal look for the new park. Still, he added, Kimley-Horn's plan is variable and will likely serve as a "road map" for the future.

"The plan is really just a concept of what type of park we'll have and what amenities will be included," he said. "The rest is up to the community."

The community, Roethling said, has always been the driving force behind the efforts on Ash Street. Reorganizing the Stoney Creek Park Committee into an alliance and making tax-deductible donations to the project a possibility, takes community involvement a step further, he added.

"That's one of our goals as an alliance," Roethling said. "To create ownership of the park among the community."

In the time since City Council members gave the alliance board a nod of approval -- adopting its bylaws and formally approving Kimley-Horn's master plan -- members of the group have tried to become "a real conduit of the community," Roethling added.

"I think from the beginning, from the very start of this idea, this has been a very cohesive and energetic group," he said. "We're reaching out so that people will become involved."

Officers for the alliance have been elected, organizational details are being sorted out and billboards have been hung to rally support for the project.

Roethling said these efforts will continue until the project begins. Construction shouldn't be too far off, he added, but the logistics will depend on the success of community fundraising, grant requests and "how eager and supportive the community is of the park."

Stoney Creek Alliance board members will meet Thursday at City Hall to continue discussions on promotion for park development and fundraising goals. The group includes City Manager Joe Huffman, Recreation and Parks director Neil Bartlett, Roethling, Councilman Bob Waller, Besty Wharton, D.J. Coles, Burl Braden, Simonne Cato, Donnie Barnes and Sissy Lee-Elmore.