New St. Charles park could include BMX track, disc golf

2011-12-22T13:27:00Z 2011-12-23T13:35:42Z New St. Charles park could include BMX track, disc golfBy Russell Korando > rkorando@yourjournal.com stltoday.com

A 10-acre BMX track, disc golf course, trail for bird watching, a community garden, four baseball diamonds and four football/soccer fields are included in proposed plans for a new park in St. Charles.

Parks officials Monday hosted the third and final public planning session for the 110-acre site, which is north of the Boeing plant and between Highway 94 North, Hawning Road and North River Road. At least 25 people attended, said Chris Atkinson, assistant director of the St. Charles Parks and Recreation Department.

"Everyone was impressed with what was there," Atkinson said. "Now the (parks board) has to assess the cost of doing these things, how we're going to develop the park over the length of the project. It won't be done in six months; it's a long-term process."

John McCarthy of Jacobs Engineering, a consulting firm hired to help design the park, will review the plans before they are presented to the board early next year. Atkinson hopes to have a cost analysis by Feb. 1.

"We started off reviewing what the city's plan called for, what park improvements and amenities were needed, then reviewed that with the public," McCarthy said. "Of course, there was a whole lot of suggestions, so we had to adapt those to the site. Since it floods a lot there, some of the ideas weren't needed."

Three mobile home parks occupied the site before the 1993 flood. After the flood, St. Charles County acquired the land with federal flood-buyout funds, then donated the land to the city about 12 years ago.

Chuck Gross, county director of administration, asked about the city's plans for the site in a letter sent last February to Parks and Recreation Director Maralee Britton. In March, the parks department began discussions about the kind of features the city's other parks lacked and whether it would be a good idea to try them at the new park.

Britton said then that the park would be designed to meet a variety of needs, such as more practice space for a variety of sports. She said there is a constant demand to keep pace with the needs of soccer, softball and baseball leagues and that one of the most frequent requests is for a Frisbee disc golf course.

Nine months later, it appears the proposed park would help meet those needs.

The property includes a road that existed when mobile homes were there, but Atkinson said building a network of roads for the park would be one of the biggest expenses. An access point off Highway 94 at St. Croix Drive is already established, but the second access point off Highway 94 is a gravel road and needs improvement. Two roads would need to be built on the river side of the park, which also would need lighting.

"A major undertaking will be the infrastructure," Atkinson said.

Plans call for two miles of paved trail to encircle the park and include a link with the Katy Trail and Discovery Elementary School. A trail made of wood chips would wind its way through the area for bird watching.

Part of the property borders Boeing, which is surrounded by chain-link fences topped with barbed wire and razor roll. Park planners will leave the undergrowth where it borders Boeing. That will provide habitat for birds and a natural buffer between the park and Boeing.

Fill dirt that will be used inside the park to raise the elevation of a corporate shelter and playground will be dug out of the park, which will create a 4-5 acre lake at the park's eastern edge. At the western side will be a community garden for planting by residents and groups. Atkinson said some of the food grown there could be donated to local food pantries.

Atkinson said park planners looked at the skate park at Fountain Lakes Park, off Elm Street and Highway 370 in St. Charles, as an example of how to set up and run the BMX track. He said the track would be open for anyone to use during normal track hours, which typically are dawn to dusk.

Once the parks board approves the master plan, permits to develop the park in a flood plain would be needed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Army Corps of Engineers, Atkinson said.

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