Milton City Council approved a master draft plan for Bell Memorial Park that will create seven sports fields in place of the four that are at the site.
"What we have here is the results of seven months of work and research and public input in trying to see what is the best use that we can come up with the land that exists... at Bell Memorial Park," said Recreation Director Jim Cregge.
The plan calls for the park to have four dedicated baseball fields, one multi-use field that can be configured as a baseball field, or used fully as a rectangular field, plus another rectangular field.
Cregge explained to City Council that the usage of the fields is based upon the season of the sport. In the spring, baseball has its biggest utilization. At four fields, the Hopewell Youth Association (HYA) program is overcrowded.
"Every single study, every consultant through the city since 2009, indicated four fields is not sufficient," Cregge said during his presentation, heard through the city's live streaming video of Monday night's council meeting.
However, in the fall, the need is less because a lot of the same children are playing football instead of baseball. With two rectangular fields, he said Milton should be able to effectively run a footbal program at Bell Memorial Park in support of the program running in Alpharetta. That will tie into Milton's park sharing agreement with Alpharetta.
Rebuilding the park will take 12 months after the draft plan is turned into construction document.
Councilman Matt Kunz asked if the HYA baseball program will just take a hiatus during that 12 months.
Cregge said no. He's developing plans to temporarily relocate the HYA program to other parks in other cities, though nothing is official yet. The program locations likely will be grouped by age. That likely will cause some difficulties with parents who have several children in the program.
"No one city can support all 671 kids participating in HYA," Cregge said.
HYA baseball would continue through Memorial Day 2014. Bell Memorial Park would be shut down for the summer 2014, fall 2014 and spring 2015 seasons.
City Council approved the plan and directed staff to move forward with the plan. They also approved a change order with the city's design consultant, Foresite XXXX, for the next steps in the process. That includes creating construction and engineering documents, helping the city through the bidding process and the managing the construction phase. The total cost of the contract with Foresite is $305,000, which has not changed from what the council originally approved earlier this year.
Cregge said they will explore if a well on the property can be used to irrigate the grass fields in the park. That would save the city on its water bill with Fulton County, reducing the park's maintenance costs.