By Alex Bridges
Woodstock's plans to give its biggest park a facelift moved forward this week and public interest in the project remains high.
A large audience attended the Park Commission's public meeting held Wednesday on the final design for the W.O. Riley Park renovation project. Assistant Planner Angela Clem said the "great turnout" filled the meeting room. Members of Town Council and the Enhancement Committee also attended the meeting.
The town plans to advertise the project and seek bids from construction firms in October. Woodstock received financing for the $1.5 million needed to cover the cost of the project. Officials separated the tennis and basketball courts replacement part of the project in order to begin the work early and complete the section by winter.
By separating the courts from the main project, the town saved approximately $40,000, Clem said. The town also saved money by removing and keeping the tennis and basketball equipment. The project plans call for the addition of lights to four tennis courts near the swimming pool. The basketball court will move to Summit Avenue. The tennis courts will be expanded to regulation size.
The goal is to finish construction of the entire project by spring 2014, Clem said.
New amenities include a handicapped-accessible playground to replace the current equipment. The playground will feature a rubberized safety surface designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Clem described part of the playground as a natural play area with tunnels, a berm and slides. The playground also will feature climbing equipment designed by Berliner Seilfabrik.
"A lot of people say 'oh, you're just going to get plastic stuff,'" Clem said. "No, we're going to be incorporating different types of climbing equipment into [the playground]."
Popular swings, including those that are handicapped accessible, also are included in the mix of amenities.
Plans also call for a splash pad near the pool. Clem noted that the popular water feature offers children a safe place to play and less of a liability than a wading pool.
Town officials began work on the park project in the winter. Woodstock advertised for a financing package that would pay for the project. The town held two of the three public inputs meetings at different stages of the design phase.
The demolition of the basketball and tennis courts began several weeks ago. The town sought separate construction bids for the courts so work could commence earlier and conclude before winter, Clem explained. Companies can't pour asphalt in winter weather.
Woodstock hired Land Planning & Design Associates of Charlottesville as the architect for the project. The firm designed "A Dream Come True Playground" in Harrisonburg. The town awarded the contract for the tennis court work to Finley Asphalt & Sealing of Manassas.
Visit www.townofwoodstockva.com/parksandpool for more information on the revitalization project.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org