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March 26, 2008

Press Release: Martinsville Bulletin

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Wilson Park Steering Committee on Tuesday accepted a concept plan for improving the park, prioritized phases for the improvements and decided to approach The Harvest Foundation for funds for some of the improvements.

If all the phases of this master plan were done with the highest quality materials, best practices and so forth, the cost would be up to an estimated $5,385,700. But some committee members said they thought the project could be done for less.

"Related costs, such as design fees, permitting, surveying and construction administration, are not included in this estimate," the master plan states.

The improvements might have to be done over several years, depending on fund-raising. The committee's priorities for the phases of improvements are:

"1: Area A - Building a grass amphitheater, stage area, concession building, rest rooms and a game plaza; widening the western entrance to the park from Church Street Extension, rerouting part of that existing road and widening and paving the road through the park, which would be opened to traffic; building paved parking lots and possibly a trail; and related or other items. The cost is estimated at up to $1,985,100.

"2: Area C - Construction of a skate park, a basketball court, roadside parking spaces, a connection (such as a trail) to Patrick Henry Elementary School property and related or other work. The cost is estimated at up to $863,600.

"3: Area B - Construction of "dinosaur park" (a children's playground area), a game plaza, a concrete trail, a parking area and related or other work. The estimated cost is up to $1,004,200.

"4: Area D - Construction/development of several woodland trails, a wooden pedestrian bridge, an outdoor classroom area, gardens and related or other work. The estimated cost is up to $354,900.

"5: Area E - Construction of a playground near Hope Street and related or other work. The estimated cost is up to $262,800.

"6: Area F - Construction of a connection to the Virginia Museum of Natural History property, including possibly a bridge or elevated walkway and elevator, and related or other work. The estimated cost is up to $915,200.

An improvement that the committee decided to add to the project was a BMX pump course, which would have mounds of dirt for bicycling enthusiasts to ride.

The course is not expected to increase the cost of the park improvement project because volunteers could do the labor. It would be south of the skate park.

Tiffani Underwood, Martinsville city planner who presented the plan, said Wilson Park, which is owned by the city, would not be expanded. She added that the park would remain largely wooded, but she did not have an estimate of how much woods would be disturbed.

Officials plan to meet with officials of The Harvest Foundation to see if the foundation would help fund improvements, especially in Area A. The committee also plans to explore possible sources of funding for other phases of improvements, including foundations, the state government and private individuals or groups.

The city government has not budgeted for the park improvements, but the "city wants to be a part of this," perhaps through such things as providing labor, machinery or planning advice, Underwood said.

Anderson and Associates, an engineering, architectural consulting firm of Blacksburg, developed the master plan after Wilson Park Steering Committee meetings and hearings were held.

The committee plans to meet again on April 22. If Anderson and Associates has revised the master plan by then for the addition of the BMX pump course and if The Harvest Foundation has stated if it is has an interest in funding part of the improvements, committee representatives would update the Martinsville City Council on the plans at its meeting that night.

The city council would have to approve the master plan and priorities.