by Larry Austin
The town government has begun long-range planning to improve two of its parks: the Town Commons and Nike Base Park.
A committee is meeting for work on the Town Commons Improvement Project and to review a long list of potential improvements to the park, located on Whitehaven Road between Baseline Road and Grand Island Boulevard and next to Town Hall.
Improvements under consideration include addition of a possible stage or band shelter and restrooms, as well as infrastructure improvements to water, sewer, in-ground power and lighting.
The ad hoc Town Commons Improvement Committee will meet again Oct. 20, according to Councilman Gary Roesch. According to a Sept. 16 meeting agenda, the goals of the project are to:
1. Enhance recreational, educational activities in the center of the Island.
2. Foster opportunities to develop and provide a sense of a community.
3. Enhance/further development of the Town Center master plan.
4. Provide an economic incentive for development to the Central Business District.
Meanwhile, the Grand Island Recreation Department has written a memo called "Outdoor Recreation Master Plan for Nike Base Park" to address improvements to the park on Whitehaven Road.
Roesch said work on the preliminary Nike Base Park master plan started when some residents asked if the town would establish a town dog park, or "Bark Park." Putting a dog park at the Nike Base, without infringing on other activities there inspired the town to develop a master plan that could take into consideration all the outdoor activities there, Roesch said.
The preliminary Nike Base Park master plan, first created Sept. 11, calls outdoor recreation "an underutilized asset."
"The Recreation Department can help grow the availability and awareness of outdoor recreation and education," the master plan says.
Activities proposed in the master plan are defined as lifelong, individual or group, competitive or leisure.
A proposed Nike Base Park master plan committee would include representatives from the Recreation Department, Parks Department, Town Board, Golden Age Center, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Conservation Advisory Board, Economic Development Advisory Board, and Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, Nike Base Park has softball and tennis courts, a nature program, a golf course, and the Joanne Pinner Carr Memorial Nature Trail.
Proposed additional outdoor programs include expansion of the trail, golf course revitalization; addition of horseshoe pits and bocce courts, archery classes, and the dog park.
The master plan outlined two proposed locations for a dog park: one in the northeast corner of the park approximately 1 and 1.5 acres in size; and the grass area and old basketball court on the south side of the Golden Age Center approximately .52 of an acre in size.
Roesch said members of the Golden Age Center insist that the par-3 golf course remains part of Nike Base Park. The whole course is 594 yards in length.
"And that's part of this plan, is enhancing that little golf course," Roesch said. "It's only a par-3. I think the longest hole is 87 yards or something like that. So it's a perfect little spot for somebody to go down there and just do chipping and whatever."
The preliminary master plan mentions expansion of the trail into a multiuse trail for walking, running, biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
"The snowmobile club meets down there now, and they want to have a trail from there to the West River," Roesch added.
The goal is to have a plan completed by Feb. 15, 2015, the memo states.