FLORENCE — After it developed in a mostly haphazard fashion for almost 30 years, there’s now a proposal for master planning Heritage Park for a more rewarding experience.
The three baseball fields will remain, but visitors will also be attracted to a new 1.4-acre lake. Big lawns on both the east and west sides of the park may accommodate a variety of recreation and relaxation types in the park at the end of North Main Street.
A diagonal path will bisect the park, making different sections more accessible and creating space for food trucks, farmers markets and art fairs. Citizens surveyed said they wanted more walking paths, lighting, shade and better restrooms, and the design is responsive to those requests, Florence Community Services Director Bryan Hughes said.
The current park area, approximately 23 acres, will expand by 4 to 5 more acres. Rather than one big parking lot, smaller parking areas will surround the park. A south parking area will take advantage of unused space the town already owns.
The proposed design, by consultant J2 Engineering & Environmental Design, is part of the town’s forthcoming Parks and Recreation comprehensive plan. It will be presented to the Town Council in a public work session Monday. Hughes and J2 representatives gave the public a peek at the proposal on Sept. 5 and gathered written comments.
Making the concept a reality is probably at least five years away, with the big challenge being funding, Hughes said. It may be built in phases, he added. Hughes and J2 representatives declined to estimate the cost.
Other features of the plan include:
- The entire park will have lights for evening use. “To me, the biggest thing missing (at the current park) is lighting at night,” Hughes said.
- The playground area will move up a few notches to a “destination playground” for all ages and abilities.
- Spectators could watch baseball from shaded bleachers. The restrooms and concession area will be in more central locations.
- In the center of the new park will be four columns, visible from a distance, that will provide an opportunity for an interpretive element or public art.
- Basketball spectators may find seats on each of two “turf hills.” There will still be volleyball, horseshoes and a skate park, with the addition of shuffleboard.
- The existing ditch bordering the park will be replanted with native species to create a riparian natural area.