Franklin — In order to build the long-proposed Pleasant View neighborhood park, the city must first provide access into the property — even if it's only a single road.
At an informational meeting on Feb. 13 city officials answered questions from residents about the conceptual plan for a neighborhood park directly south of the Pleasant View Elementary School at 4601 W. Marquette Ave.
One route to the park
The city originally bought the 24-acre piece of land behind the school in 1998 with the help of a state grant designated for park development.
The property has been "land-locked ever since," said Orrin Sumwalt, a planner for the city, at the meeting hosted at the Clare Meadows senior apartment complex near the property.
To begin the construction, however, the Parks Commission has recommended extending Evergreen Street into a 50-unit parking lot in the park.
"Nobody knows (the land) is there because nobody can get to it or see it," Sumwalt said. "The whole point of the road is to open up access to be able to develop it."
Evergreen Street, a residential street southwest of the property, currently stops at a roundabout in front of a field of trees and other vegetation.
According to the concept site plans, Evergreen would be the only route in and out of the park.
"I have concerns that Evergreen is going to bear the brunt of this (as it is) more fully developed," said Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm who proposed to host the informational meeting. "If it's a limited-use park, it won't be so much traffic for (residents); but if they do as much intense development as they have planned, and (Evergreen) is the only way in or out, there could be a fair amount of traffic."
The site design for a neighborhood park follows a template set by the city's comprehensive recreation plan. The design includes a softball diamond, a play field, a pavilion and a playground in addition to tennis, basketball and volleyball courts.
"The development of the park is a little premature if we don't have another access road," Wilhelm said.
A recreational outlet
The park, which is estimated to cost about $1 million in total, would be partially funded through impact fees collected earlier from nearby subdivisions, Sumwalt said.
"Basically, the basis for our neighborhood parks is to have them next to elementary schools," Sumwalt said. "Elementary schools do provide outdoor recreation opportunities ... but they don't have as comprehensive a package as our neighborhood parks have.
"Common Council has to ultimately decide whether or not to spend money on any of those facilities."
Franklin Fire Battalion Chief Paul Rynders, who lives along Evergreen, said he's concerned about the traffic, but a park next door would be good for his children.
"I don't see it as a bad thing; I just want to see it done right," Rynders said.
The proposal to begin construction on the Evergreen extension and parking lot will appear before the Common Council at a future meeting but has not yet been included on an agenda.
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