On Tuesday, the Denison City Council held a special retreat at the Denison Hampton Inn to discuss current and future city projects that are planned within the next decade. Among the topics that were discussed were plans to update city parks and sports facilities.

On Tuesday, the Denison City Council held a special retreat at the Denison Hampton Inn to discuss current and future city projects that are planned within the next decade. Among the topics that were discussed were plans to update city parks and sports facilities.


In an initiative to improve and add to city park and recreational facilities, City Manager Robert Hanna presented conceptual images and layout plans for a proposed sports complex at Randell Lake. The $8 million project would bring four competition-level baseball fields, including one championship field to the area. Included in the budget is $2 million in infrastructure upgrades for areas surrounding the lake. The project would be paid for by a proposed bond.


The Council raised major concerns about the project, including the lack of support for other sports at the facility, which Council member Matt Hanley described as a "tough sell." Hanley suggested that fields should be added to the project for other sports like football, soccer, and lacrosse, which can be played on the same field, thus increasing use of the facilities while reducing costs. Hanley said that a complete sports facility would be an easier sell with tax payers, even at a higher price.


Mayor Jared Johnson questioned who would be served by the competition-level facilities, when recreational-grade facilities would fulfill the City’s needs.


"Our number one priority is Denison kids," said Johnson.


Additional concerns came from a proposed waste water treatment plant located near the southwest corner of the project. Concerns were raised about the smell, especially during spring and summer when south winds would blow from the south.


Council members discussed other possible options, including building sports facilities near the new high school, which will open in August. This possibility could allow the park to share parking facilities with the high school. Other discussions involved transitioning current sports facilities into practice fields.


The Council resolved to create a site selection committee to locate potential sites for the park, but have yet to make any official appointments.


Continuing the focus on local parks and recreation, Hanna presented plans to focus efforts on revitalizing Forest Park in preparation for the opening of the new football field, located adjacent to the park. The project would be funded using $115,000 borrowed from the City’s rainy day fund and $132,000 from Park Maintenance funding.


A small section on the east side of the park, which was purchased by the City for $1 in 1882, was given to the school district to build an entrance to the stadium, which has affectionately been dubbed ‘Touchdown Alley."


The move to revitalize the park coincides with continued efforts to revitalize downtown and other nearby parts of the City. Possible changes within the park include restorations to the historic pavilion within the park, and a fountain outside the entrance to the stadium.


In addition to City funding, the Rotary Club, as a part of it’s 100-year anniversary, wishes to invest $100,000 in projects within the park, with the City matching its funding. The Council considered what projects would fit its vision for the future of the park.


With the historic nature of the park, Hanley felt that park features like playground equipment would detract from the appeal that it brings. The original plans for the city included potential space for a future playground, but no plans have been finalized.