Plans to improve Braem Park continue to move forward.
The Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Committee is working with a consultant from CBS² to develop a Master Plan to complete much-needed improvements to the parking lot, tennis courts, softball field, and address stormwater management.
“Instead of investing money into costly projects, we decided to take a step back to conduct a Master Plan for the entire park,” said Justin Casperson, Parks & Recreation Director. “The plan evaluates the park’s current conditions, facilities, programs, forest, and open space and proposes future programming and systematic facility improvements.”
The Master Plan for the 33-acre park has been discussed since early 2017 and gained momentum this year. As part of the process, feedback from the neighborhood and the public were solicited.
According to the concept plan presented by the consultant at the December committee meeting, the project could commence in 2023 with final completion in 2026 or 2027. The estimated cost for the improvements is currently $5,547,678, partially covered by grants.
The first phase includes upgrades to the tennis courts and adds dedicated pickleball and basketball courts. Currently there are four tennis courts at Braem Park that have degraded over time, which could be reduced to one.
Phase 2 would see the parking expand to 117 stalls from the existing 85, plus a 14-stall parking lot by the existing skate park; the addition of separated pavilion and restroom facilities; an accessible playground with sections divided by age and ability; and the softball field adjusted further to the south with new fencing to allow for more parking and safer bleacher seating.
Phase 3 would deal with improving stormwater management to address erosion on the creek banks, reforestation, and restoring wetlands, which could mean a boardwalk trail in addition to asphalt trails.
A major challenge to the park is the infestation of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a beetle which feeds on ash trees. Braem Park has a high number of ash trees which will ultimately be affected regardless of any improvements made, a landscape concern for the walking trails and disc golf course.
No projects are scheduled for 2019. The Parks, Recreation and Forestry Committee will go over the consultant’s report, choose what makes sense for the park and develop a plan, which will be taken into consideration in the City’s 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Program starting spring.