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Parks & Rec Board ponders park and trail changes

Parks & Rec Board ponders park and trail changes
Possible changes at Waverly Hill Park. Press graphic by Bob Steenson
Parks & Rec Board ponders park and trail changes
This area at Waverly Hill Park in Charles City, between the existing large dog part of the dog park and an old swing set, could potentially become a new small dog area.
Parks & Rec Board ponders park and trail changes
Members of the Charles City Parks and Recreation Board meet at Waverly Hill Park for their monthly meeting Wednesday evening. From left are board members Diane Meyer and Cory Mutch, Parks & Rec Director Tyler Mitchell, board Chair Jeff Otto, board member Chris Eldridge, Mayor Dean Andrews and City Council liaison Phoebe Pittman. Press photo by Bob Steenson
By Bob Steenson,

Several potential park projects and improvements could be in Charles City’s future if everything discussed at a meeting Wednesday evening comes to pass.

The city Parks and Recreation Board didn’t make any decisions or commitments, but it did once again discuss changes to the city dog park and to Waverly Hill Park, where the dog park is located, as well as several improvements or addition possibilities to the city’s trail system.

The group held its meeting at Waverly Hill Park, at the top of the hill from where 6th Street meets South Grand Avenue, to look over the current large dog and small dog areas at the dog park there and talk about requested changes.

Representatives of the city’s dog park committee had brought up some of the ideas at the Park & Rec Board’s previous meeting in May, saying they mostly wanted to relocate the small dog part of the park because much of it is on a steep grade that causes problems for anyone with mobility concerns.

Board members discussed several ideas Wednesday evening, and ended up agreeing with a suggestion by board member Cory Mutch to have Park & Rec Director Tyler Mitchell go back to the dog park group with a proposal to move the small dog park to the south part of the park, sharing a fence on the east with the large dog park and extending southwest of the existing picnic shelter area.

Actual dimensions or exact locations haven’t been proposed. At this point it’s mostly taking the idea to the dog park committee and gauging the reaction, Park & Rec Board members said.

The board members also discussed the possibility of improving the playground area of the park, which now has just an old swing, a small revolving play piece, and what board members refer to as “The Sad Clown.”

The board discussed modernizing the equipment, possibly with more natural elements, and also improving lighting and possibly clearing some bushes and trees to open up the area and make it more visible from the streets.

Mitchell noted that it’s the only park and the only playground in that part of town.

Mitchell said “a nice playground that fits in that space” could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, but the board didn’t discuss financing possibilities at the meeting Wednesday.

Mitchell said an idea brought up at the previous board meeting in May of leveling off the bottom of the hill where the small dog areas is now and making that a playground area would be prohibitively expensive, based on discussions he had.

Also at the meeting, Mitchell passed out a proposal from a group interested in enhancing the Charley Western Recreation Trail in town.

Mark Melrose’s proposal suggested creating several rest stops along the trail at points related to the Charley Western Railroad history in the community, by clearing brush and trees in specific spots, placing benches, laying rock or pavers or some other ground cover and creating signage regarding the old railroad history and routes.

The first spot, Melrose suggested, would be the “End of the Line” trail stop, located just north of the entrance to Wildwood Park on the west side of the trail where there is what could be the last remaining section of track from the original railroad.

Other stops would be “Crossroads,” at the south end of the trail where the tracks would have split, and “Sherman Nursery Bridge” trail stop, just south of Grove street near the entrance to the former Sherman Nursery.

Melrose outlined a series of steps needed to complete the project, including obtaining funds, soliciting help from community groups, obtaining historical information from the Floyd County Historical Museum, obtaining needed easements and more.

Mayor Dean Andrews was at the meeting and suggested the city needs to reconstitute its trail committee, similar to the one that existed when the Charley Western Recreation Trail was being created.

There was also a Friends of the Trail group where members threw in $100 a year.

“That group raised some money and some of it went to trail maintenance, and I know there are some tough spots on the trail between Clark Street and the bridge that just need some work,” Andrews said.

Andrews discussed fundraising plans to pay for lighting on the new Charley Western Recreation Trail bridge that will open by the end of summer or in the fall, and then the next phase to install trail lighting from the bridge to Clark Street.

The total cost could be around $100,000, he estimated.

Several Park & Rec Board members said they would be interested in being involved in a new trail committee.

Andrews said he would like the trail committee to be separate from any other group, “to be an entity unto itself,” and said there are a lot of possibilities for improvements or expansions to the trail.

As an example, he said, he had been contacted by someone in Floyd to see if the two cities could work together to establish a trail between the two cities.

Also at the meeting Wednesday:

  • Mitchell said the water slide at the swimming pool was likely out out of commission until at least next week because the motor that pumps water to the top of the slide burned out. The company providing the motor has to pull the old one out of its pit at the pool and install the new one, at a price Mitchell estimated at several thousand dollars.

Despite the problem with the slide, attendance at the pool so far this summer, including general swimming and water exercise classes, is up significantly over previous years, he said. The pool was closed last year because of COVID-19 mitigation concerns.

  • Everything is in place for Heartland Asphalt of Mason City to redo the surface of the pickleball courts as soon as it can be worked into the company’s schedule. Heartland will subcontract with River City Fencing to repair the fencing around the courts.

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