Three of the turf mounds to be replanted and upgraded
Central area in the west-end of the Panhandle to be focus of improvements
Modernizing irrigation and drainage systems will help prevent frequent path flooding
The Panhandle Park will see new turf, new pathways, more native plants, and upgraded irrigation and drainage early in 2011 as part of a capital improvement proposal selected in a competition conducted by the Recreation and Parks Department (RPD). During a December 2 meeting, RPD commissioners approved the funding of several proposals, including one submitted by the Panhandle Park Stewards, a group of volunteers who live around the Panhandle and participate in monthly work days caring for the park. RPD agreed to finance the $89,000 proposal, and staff have indicated that they expect the implementation to begin early in the new year.
Dale Danley, leader of the Panhandle Park Stewards, said the proposal focused on the area near the basketball court, restroom, and children's playground to get the most impact from funds available. "Improving the central area is the best way to make the park a gathering place for neighbors, and will further improve people's perceptions of our neighborhood park," said Danley. (See this previous post for an aerial view of the project area). Danley said the work will also include a seating wall situated near the basketball courts, bike racks, and a new wood chip path leading to the Kevin Collins' Children's Garden and playground.
Park regulars know that the turf along several pathways frequently has deep ruts caused by service vehicles too large for the paths or operators not careful enough to stay on them. A key repair aspect of the project will be to re-route the trucks onto other, wider paths. The south side walking and jogging path requires upgrades along much of its length from Baker to Masonic streets, but Danley explained the funds available for the projects were insufficient for such a large undertaking. The multi-use path along the Fell street side of the Panhandle has become overwhelmed with users, both walkers and bicyclists. With a continuing surge in bicycling in the city, the most likely solution for the over-crowded multi-use path is an on-street, separated track for people on bikes.
Danley envisions greater community involvement for the betterment of the neighborhood park. On his website, Panhandle Park Stewards, he encourages more neighbors to join the monthly workdays and for the group to conduct more outreach to neighbors and park users. He also hopes to engage neighbors in the implementation phases of the upgrades by documenting the work, identifying the plants selected, and proposing re-use of materials removed from the park. The Panhandle Park Stewards received an award last month as the outstanding park volunteer group of the year.