WOODSTOCK — Town officials this spring anticipate hiring at least one consultant to help update the town’s master plan for the 73-acre Larry D. Bradford Fairview Park.
Adopted by the Town Council in 2008, the plan includes long-range recommendations from Woodstock officials, a steering committee and residents to build a ballpark, a multi-use field sports complex, greenspace, a recreation/wellness center and an events center at the park, which stands on the northeast side of North Street (Fairview Road), adjacent to Interstate 81.
In 2008, those and other recommended items for the park were projected to total more than $46 million.
Today, however, the overall park site remains mostly undeveloped. It currently contains a dog park, created in 2017, at 716 W. North Street. Cross-country runners from Central High School use the park’s passive trails, and a portion of the overall property still is used for hay crops.
The initial master plan was intended to be a long-range guide for the development of park and recreation facilities and amenities over 15 to 20 years.
But now, Woodstock officials want to re-assess the park’s needs, Town Manager Aaron Grisdale said on Tuesday.
Grisdale, a Woodstock native, began serving as its deputy town manager in September 2019 and was appointed as town manager in February 2021.
Because of the Great Recession from late 2007 into 2009, town officials were not ready to implement the recommendations in the park’s current master plan, he said.
One of those recommendations called for using the historic Wetzel farmhouse, barn and grounds, next to the park’s dog park area, as a place to host festivals and other events.
That recommendation, however, later was addressed when the town provided event space at Woodstock’s old public pool site at W.O. Riley Park, Grisdale said.
“Ultimately, our park needs have evolved since that master plan was adopted” for the recreational area now known as Larry D. Bradford Fairview Park, he said. “The council wants to step back and reassess the needs and think comprehensively about that space. There may be elements from the 2008 plan that are needed to go forward, but that’s the whole reason why we’re going forward with this (plan update) exercise, to identify different needs. We don’t want to get ahead of the planning process or say what the community and council wants to see out there.”
The process to update the park’s master plan will include community engagement meetings and could wrap up in late 2024, Grisdale said.
Town officials have $100,000 worth of federal American Rescue Plan Act money set aside in Woodstock’s current budget to update the plan.
Grisdale said the park’s potential upgrades might be paid for with a mix of grants, loans and town funds, as well as money gained from possible partnerships with businesses and nonprofits.
The park site was created after Woodstock officials bought 50 acres in 1999 and 23 acres in 2006. Sixty-seven acres of the overall site stand east of I-81.
On June 1, 2021, the council approved renaming Fairview Park the “Larry D. Bradford Fairview Park” in honor of Woodstock’s long-time former town manager and avid environmentalist.
Bradford, who retired in 2018 after having served as manager for more than 26 years, died in April 2021 at age 74 after battling pancreatic cancer.