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Williams Bay park plan could be trimmed

Williams Bay park plan could be trimmed

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Shawn Kelly

Landscape architect Shawn Kelly presents his plan for a renovated Lions Park and a new park on Theatre Road in February.

WILLIAMS BAY The $6.9 million park plan for Lions Field will have to wait for the Williams Bay Village Board to review it in light of other village projects.

Trustees on the village board’s Parks and Lakefront Committee on Sept. 11 began looking for ways to reduce the park plan price tag.

The proposed $6.9 million parks plan, presented in February, is more than twice the village’s annual $3.3 million budget, and left trustees with sticker shock.

The park plan proposes that Lions Field be converted into a recreation area, a dog park and community gardens.

The four ball diamonds on Lions Field, suitable for softball, little league and regulation baseball, would be relocated to property the village owns on Theatre Road.

Also at the Sept. 11 meeting, the Parks and Lakefront Committee recommended that the park plan be included in the village’s review of its master plan, which will place the park plan in line for future resources.

Trustees will review the master plan in November.

Some of the other pricey projects facing the village include repairs to the village’s sewer and water infrastructure, installation of a bicycle and hiking trail along Theatre Road, redirection of Southwick Creek and possibly construction of a new fire station.

The ball diamonds would be the most expensive part of the parks project, at $4 million.

The cost could be cut to $2 million if an underground storm-water collection system was replaced by a conventional above-ground storage, and if a permeable surface for a walkway to the ball diamonds was replaced with asphalt, said David Hemmerich of Baxter and Woodman, the village’s engineering firm.

However, the diamonds would still cost about $500,000 each, Hemmerich said.

“Why do we need four ball diamonds?” asked trustee Jim Killian, a member of the Parks and Lakefront Committee.

The village could cut costs if it were able to use the school district’s two ball diamonds, said trustee Jim D’Alessandro, who chairs the village board’s Parks and Lakefront Committee.

“We have six ball fields; two are not used during the summer,” D’Alessandro said.

An intergovernmental agreement between the school district and the village for use of the ball diamonds is feasible, school district administrator Wayne Anderson said.

However, any discussions about an intergovernmental agreement will have to wait for a November review of the village master plan, D’Alessandro said.

Anderson confirmed that two school district diamonds are not regularly used during the summer.

Anderson said that the school district already has an agreement with the village.

“We opened our facilities to the rec department,” he said.

He said the village recreation department uses the school ball diamonds when the diamonds at Lions Field are flooded or an extra diamond is needed for games. But those instances are rare.

Anderson said he does not recall how many times the recreation department used the school’s diamonds this year, but it is not often.

He said the school district does maintenance on the diamonds if they are used by the recreation department.

More frequent use of the ball diamonds would put a financial burden on the school district, said William White, principal of Williams Bay’s high school and middle school.

“It’s not just cutting the grass,” White said. “The diamond has to be maintained as well.”

That includes raking the infield and laying down the baselines.

Landscape architect Sean Kelly of Williams Bay, whose firm did the park plan, said the plan was designed with the cooperation of the village recreation department. It does not have to be built all at once, Kelly said during the Sept. 11 meeting.

“The Lions Park area can be done in phases,” Kelly siad. “Some parts may never happen.”

Visions change and needs change, Kelly said, adding that the plan was designed to be flexible.

“As long as it’s built according to plan, you can add things without tearing something out,” he said. “You don’t grow a landscape overnight.”

Dave Rowland, director of the Williams Bay Recreation Department, said his department has been exploring ways to reduce the cost of the plan.

“We’ve been looking at 20 different grants,” Rowland said.

The park plan will now have to wait until the village board starts discussing its master plan in November.

Trustee Greg Trush, a member of the Parks and Lakefront Committee, said that Williams Bay should not ignore its parks. People come to Williams Bay for its amenities, he said.

“Williams Bay is an amenities community,” Trush said. “Having a good parks program is essential.”

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Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.

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