The District of Houston is proposing upgrades for Jamie Baxter Park.
In June, Mayor Bill Holmberg reported that Doug McRae, Director of Dungate Community Forests, offered the District $50,000 for a project that would benefit the community as a whole.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, council agreed on Jamie Baxter Park.
“Jamie Baxter Park is a tremendous asset,” said Director of Engineering John Guenther.
It’s central, has a variety of aspects like the BMX track, skateboard park, playground, and Amphitheatre, as well as outdoor exercise equipment. It also has good access to Buck Creek, camping amenities, and has a “cross generational feel” with the college, Seniors Centre and Library all nearby, Guenther said.
The proposal includes three main parts: (1) completing a small circuit trail around the BMX track, (2) developing a BMX pump track and (3) upgrading the playground.
The trail would circle the BMX track, and link the path through the park to the one along Buck Creek with the exercise equipment, and would cost about $2,000.
The proposed BMX pump track is a circular track with a series of bumps, jumps and berms designed to generate speed as a rider bikes through the course without pedalling.
“They don’t have a lot of capital costs… and they tend to really draw kids,” Guenther said, adding that it’s good for children six to seven years old and for older youth and teens.
It’s $8,000 and they’re expecting donated time and materials to drop it to $3,000, and maintenance is minimal as the track has a clay cap, he said.
The playground is the biggest part of the proposed upgrades, costing about $35,000 and including upgrades to the picnic table and bench.
Director of Leisure Services Ryan Coltura said the park could be a focal point in Houston if people were drawn by a nice playground on top of the ball diamond, skateboard park and Amphitheatre.
Asked why they focused on Jamie Baxter rather then Four Seasons Park, Coltura said it’s because the use of Four Seasons is declining, and upgrades to the ball diamond last year did not serve to increase the park use.
“What we could spend at Four Seasons would not make as big an impact as what we could do at Jamie Baxter,” Coltura said. “We are looking possible upgrades to the ball diamond at Jamie Baxter to accommodate the usage at Four Seasons.”
Councillor Shane Brienen asked if they considered lighting.
“I would like to have a look at that walkway down the hill there, it’s very under-lighted… it’s an ugly area to walk through at night,” he said.
“It all costs money but it would be nice to see if anything can be done cheaply there.”
Guenther agreed it was a good idea, adding that solar light technology has changed dramatically and may be cheaper now.
Councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld said that with the contingency built into the project’s budget, there may be funds left to use for lighting.
“It would be a shame to invest dollars there and then have it vandalized,” he said.
The proposal will be brought to Dungate Community Forests this week for approval.