Hill of Dreams: Gladstone developing plan to revamp sports park

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone Recreation Department is working to develop a master plan that could transform the city’s sports park into a more visitor-friendly, year-round facility.

The department has teamed up with the U.P. Engineers & Architects, Inc. to develop the plan. Using feedback from the recently completed citizen surveys and a public meeting held last Wednesday, UPEA will develop a preliminary plan. The plan will be presented to the public at a second meeting in early April.

“I think we’re going to have a great product,” said Nicole Sanderson, Gladstone parks and recreation director.

UPEA conducted an inventory of the park to assess any issues and possibilities for the roughly 177-acre park. One major area of the park that was under discussion was the ski hill, which faces issues due to both the terrain and the lack of snow.

Mild temperatures frequently leave the hills with inadequate snowfall, and the existing snow making equipment that was installed in the 1990s is not working efficiently.

Because the snowguns are using city water – which is delivered at a relatively high temperature and low pressure – the equipment is not producing the maximum amount of snow. However, the equipment could be adequate for the ski hill if there was a cooler water supply, and pump and distribution upgrades were made.

The ski hill could also see new summer uses including summer tubing hills, zip lines, a mountain bike trail, and disc golf course.

“When you put together a meeting like this we always hope to get some ideas that we haven’t thought of,” said Sanderson, who added residents proposed ideas at the meeting that neither the city nor the engineering firm had considered.

The three ball fields at the park were also evaluated in the UPEA’s inventory. While the ball fields are not regulation size and there are no softball facilities, the UPEA rated the Don Olson and Howes fields as OK. Memorial Field was rated as poor.

The UPEA identified parking as a major concern for the ball field area. Currently there are not enough parking spaces available for large events and there are no ADA compliant paths from lots to fields. Also, some parking lots at the facility require pedestrians to cross Bluff Drive – a 25 mile per hour road.

Proposals for the ball field area include replacing the fields with four new fields, improving parking, and replacing concession stands and restrooms. Adding a playground area or an ice rink were also discussed.

Roughly 120 acres of the sports park are currently undeveloped, however, portions of this area are in use as dump and compost sites. There is also a ski path in this area of the park, however, the trail is poorly defined.

While the dump and compost sites must remain, a number of uses were proposed for the undeveloped area. Some ideas include pump tracks for mountain biking, an archery range, a dog park, campsites, and more trails.

“It’s a lot of work putting together a plan like this,” said Sanderson. “Every good project starts with a good plan.”