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Fort Nugent Park due improvements

During an Arbor Day project Wednesday at Fort Nugent Park, Shameka Johnson, 5, makes sure her Douglas fir is firmly planted. Thanks to city council action this week, the park will see some major upgrades in the future. - Jim Larsen
During an Arbor Day project Wednesday at Fort Nugent Park, Shameka Johnson, 5, makes sure her Douglas fir is firmly planted. Thanks to city council action this week, the park will see some major upgrades in the future.
— image credit: Jim Larsen

Fort Nugent Park will be getting a nearly $1 million expansion to include a children’s “play meadow,” restrooms, a picnic shelter, concessions, volleyball and basketball courts, more parking and even an amphitheater.

The cost of the Oak Harbor project, which is deemed “phase 2A,” was increased because the city is incorporating an environmentally-friendly, low-impact stormwater design into the project. That means using things like porous pavement, bioswales with amended soil, and rain gardens to handle stormwater runoff instead of the conventional detention ponds.

While low impact developments can increase construction costs, Public Works Superintendent Cathy Rosen said the benefits include increased aesthetic appeal — smaller or no ugly detention ponds — improved stormwater management and public education. City officials want to encourage developers to use elements of low impact development into projects, so the park could serve as a demonstration site.

Oak Harbor City Council members voted Tuesday to proceed with an option for the park that includes “a moderate level of low impact design techniques,” but they also wanted to consider using porous asphalt for the parking lot and trails. The option is estimated to add about 6 percent to the cost of the project, but it could be more if the porous asphalt is added.

Under this option there will still be a detention pond at the park, but it would be much smaller, about 19,000 cubic feet less than what would be required for a conventional project.

The cost of the project, with the moderate option, is estimated at about $957,000, including a 25 percent contingency.

Yet the price tag won’t affect the city’s general fund budget. The funding, according to Rosen, comes from real estate excise taxes, park impact fees and some waste water impact fees for the restrooms. The city contracted with the Oak Harbor firm, Fakkema and Kingma, for the design and bid documents.

Work on Fort Nugent Park, which is located on Fort Nugent Road at Ridgeway Drive, began about five years ago. The project is divided into three phases so that completed areas of the park can be used by the community as soon as possible. The city leases half of the city park from the school district and owns the other half.

The first phase of the was project in the fall of 2000. Half of the park, the leased 20 acres, was developed into four soccer fields, two multi-purpose fields for either soccer of softball and a field for youth football.

Rosen said the city now has the funding to proceed with the first part of the next phase, which will cover less than half of the other 20 acres. The project, she said, will include an upper parking area, restrooms, a concession area, volleyball and basketball courts, a picnic shelter and a grassy play meadow for kids.

There will even by an amphitheater that the community can use for presentations or maybe even Shakespeare in the park productions. Rosen explained that it’s really an area for emergency stormwater detention — for times of extreme rainfall — but it can be used as an amphitheater when it’s dry.

Rosen said there isn’t enough money to finish the phase, which will include playground equipment and at least three more ballfields.

The third phase consists of even more ballfields.

The park is designed to be a regional park. Rosen said the park has been very popular since opening. There are at least a couple dozen adult and youth sports leagues in the area competing for very limited ballfield space.

The next step, Rosen said, is for staff to meet again with Fakkema and Kingma and get some estimates on how much porous pavement will cost on the parking lot and trails. She will bring the estimates back to council for their final decision.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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