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Modernizing Jamie Baxter Park

A plaza and covered rink as a key feature at nearly $2.3 million
Council has been presented with an ambitious plan to modernize Jamie Baxter Park. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

Consultants have now presented the District of Houston council with a $7.5 million plan that would transform and modernize Jamie Baxter Park over three phases.

The plan, released at council’s Jan. 3 meeting, would have a plaza and covered rink as a key feature at nearly $2.3 million followed by serviced campsites at just under $2.1 million.

None of the costs have been tested by asking for tenders but consultants Urban Systems did indicate the pricing of items includes a 30 per cent contingency.

Urban Systems began its vision for a revived Jamie Baxter Park by developing two concept option plans and asking residents last summer to comment on the elements of each one.

- Option 1 emphasized an open winter skating loop while Option 2 favoured a skating rink.

- Option 1 favoured a trail connector to the Mountain View neighbourhood and the potential for a riparian restoration area while Option 2 favoured an area for beginner mountain bikers, mountain bikes of differing skill levels and a paved pump track.

Both options called for an amphitheater open lawn, covered skating area, an off-leash dog park with walking loop and pull-through as well as pull-in camping sites.

Urban Systems gathered in 271 responses with 73 per cent favouring bike facilities in Option 2 while 19 per cent favoured no bike facilities in the list of Option 1 amenities. Just under 8 per cent had no preference at all.

Of those 271 responses, 62.8 per cent saw the park as a location for a playground, 60 per cent as an area for walking or jogging, 58.6 per cent for picnicking, 55.3 per cent as a location for attending events or performances, 51.1 per cent for passive recreation, 46.6 per cent as a place for fitness, 45.5 per cent as a place to walk dogs, 42.7 per cent as a location for biking and 28.2 per cent as a spot for skateboarding.

What Urban Systems described as its ‘preferred plan’ as presented to council did not include biking facilities but did include a paved pump track.

In all, the preferred plan contained 24 specific amenities ranging from the covered skating rink and campsites mentioned above to keeping the existing skate park to adding a spray plaza to developing a multi-purpose sports court to having a trail connector to the Mountain View neighbourhood to a small disc golf course.

Phase 1 at $3.446 million would include the campground sites, an office, a washroom building and general servicing at $2.097 million.

Council accepted the Urban Systems report and will add it to the list when it develops its strategic planning priorities.

The District will also need significant outside grants to finance any portion of the plan.

About the Author: Rod Link

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