Parkland in Larkspur beginning to take shape

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The Liberty Hill Parks & Recreation Board got an initial look Tuesday at the potential first improvements to the parkland donated to the City in the Larkspur subdivision by Milestone Developers.

The land, 53 acres in total, runs roughly north to south through the southeast portion of the development and will give park visitors access to the South San Gabriel River.

In addition to the land, Milestone has agreed to establish a trail through the park.

“There are kind of two options we have looked at so far, and one of the options offers the City the potential to participate in enhancing the trail,” said David Bennett with Milestone Community Developers. “Right now, Milestone is actually committed to build a basic dirt trail that goes through the parkland area along with an unpaved parking lot.”

The proposed trail would weave through the park area with mild grade changes. The investment by Milestone for the trail improvements is projected at about $65,000 and includes an 8-foot-wide dirt path and the unpaved parking lot. The proposed trail length is about .75 miles one way.

As part of his presentation, Bennett showed the difference in the basic trail proposed and potential upgrades the City could make to the park to enhance the trail or add to it.

“The advantage of a basic trail is it is low-maintenance and it has a closeness to nature,” Bennett said. “My family and I just went on the Brushy Creek Trail just last weekend and we were dodging cyclists and joggers the whole time. It is a really nice trail, but it just felt crowded and it wasn’t a place to explore and enjoy nature.”

Additional development would be funded by the city or through grants, and might include interpretive signs, trail steps, a gravel base and trailhead signage and first aid station.

“This could have mile markers, bridges, some steps, things that would make it a little easier for hikers who may not be as experienced or just want a leisurely stroll,” Bennett said. “The advantages to this is it is accessible to more people. If you’re putting up signs it gives you more information about the area.”

The proposal also showed a number of side trails with overlooks and different scenery.

Doing the enhanced trail, with all of the amenities and upgrades is estimated at $230,000.

“The enhanced trail kind of just added in everything we thought of that would be neat to have, so it is not saying you have to have all of these items, it is here’s what these items would cost,” Bennett said.

City Administrator Greg Boatright asked if there was potential to do a trail down to the river as planned, but create a different trail for the hike back up to the parking area and Bennett said it could work, but some of the drainage areas posed problems for a trail.

The Board made no recommendations on the trail proposal, but Boatright did say the City would like to see Milestone begin planning for its trail proposal.

“What I would like for you guys to do is go ahead and move forward with identifying the trail and parking area; then it’s going to make it much easier for us to come in and improve things,” Boatright said. “It puts it on the ground, it establishes it and a lot of times it is easier to gain support for something that is there. We know that’s what we want and that’s where we want it and that’s a real enhancement.”

Downtown parks
Boatright confirmed to the Parks Board Tuesday that work on Wetzel Park is scheduled to begin next week.

“That is exciting,” said Parks Board Chair Mary Lyn Jones. “We’re getting moving on our downtown park, with a splash pad, restrooms and more parking.”

Two other downtown parks in the works were discussed as well as they began to take shape.

The proposed Stubblefield Park is about one acre off Stubblefield and Myrtle lanes and is being proposed as a dog park.

“What we were talking about with amenities for the dog park is try and establish some boundaries now, fence it in, put a water station, waste bags and receptacle,” Jones said.

With fencing comes the question of whether the park should have a controlled access or not for accountability.

“If we had a way for people to register their dogs, if they’d had their shots and are able to use the facility, that way we will know the animals that would be going there,” Jones said. “We don’t want to charge.”

Boatright expanded on that notion with having individual access codes for users of the park.

“One of the things that would really help us is that if we had a programmable access code where it was unique to the individual it was registered to we would have a lot more compliance out of the dog park and the owners,” Boatright said. “I really want to look into that and see what’s available.”

The dog park would likely have three or four parking spaces according to Boatright.

Parks Board member Elizabeth Branigan also said she’d like to see a table as well for dog owners to sit.

Central Park, which is south on Stubblefield between Munro and Grange, was originally planned to be left as a natural open space, but Boartight suggested including some basic play equipment and benches.

“They are basically ceramic-type dinosaur creatures and the kids play on them,” he said. “It’s interesting because of the different species of dinosaurs and it is just a cool concept. You don’t really need to do a whole lot to it, just allow for the kids to have some unique experience.”

No timetable was given for the suggested improvements to Stubblefield and Central parks.

A parks director?
As part of the conversation on the details of the downtown parks, Boatright also mentioned how much more could be accomplished if the city had a parks director.

“That needs to be a topic of discussion as we go into the next budget cycle,” he said. “Just identifying things and working with the development community on their parks.”

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