The 2018 Parks & Recreation Comprehensive Plan was developed to serve as a guiding document for future decision-making on how to get the most value from the City’s limited park land and the facilities within them, while fulfilling residents’ recreational wants and needs. The plan made several recommendations for potential improvements at Northam Park not previously included in past-year upgrades to the Tremont Pool, playground and parking lot.
In response to these recommendations, the Parks & Recreation Department initiated a project for the schematic design of infrastructure improvements to the athletic fields and tennis court complex at Northam Park, and commissioned MSA Sport to lead this process. Given the well-established nature of Northam Park and its existing uses, this project aimed not to redesign or reprogram the park but to study and develop a long-term plan for enhancements to those existing athletic and civic facilities in need of renovation or renovation replacement.
This study process began in January of 2020. At its conclusion in the fall of 2021, MSA provided a “Vision Package” for improvements that include renderings and schematic drawings. It also includes phasing information and cost estimates to assist the Parks & Recreation Department as it schedules improvements within the Parks Capital Improvement Program.
Funding for a phased approach to Northam Park improvements is included in the 10-year Parks Capital Improvement Program, which was reviewed and approved by City Council in December of 2021.
The first phase of work was for the installation of a new storm sewer to address ponding issues in the northern area of the park and to provide the necessary underground infrastructure for future drainage improvements. This work was completed in the Spring of 2022. Of note, until the athletic fields in the south portion of the park have been regraded/improved with under-drains connecting to the new storm line, it’s likely that these areas will still experience standing water following heavy rains.
The City will continue to determine the best approach for implementing future phases of improvements. The 2021 Northam Park Vision Plan will serve as a guide for future improvements, but specific phases may be adjusted based on budgets and impacts to the park.
The first phase of work was to install a new storm sewer to address ponding issues in the park’s northern area and to provide the necessary underground infrastructure for future drainage improvements. This work was completed in the Spring of 2022. Of note, until the athletic fields in the south portion of the park have been regraded/improved with under-drains connecting to the new storm line, it’s likely that these areas will still experience standing water following heavy rains.
Spring 2023 – Work is underway to regrade the west athletic fields, provide new area and underdrains and a new field irrigation system and is expected to last through September. The fields will remain offline for another year to allow turf to establish. The project will also completely renovate the west baseball diamonds with new infields, backstops and dugouts.
A phase planned to begin in fall 2022 to renovate some of the Northam Tennis Courts and replace the service building was postponed. Unfortunately, despite efforts to contain costs through refinements in the project scope, bids exceeded estimates by 17%, falling victim to the inflationary effects of recent market conditions. As a result, it was determined that the work should be postponed and revisited relative to the scope and timing within overall plans for the Northam Park improvements.
During 2023-24 budget discussions, City Council members expressed support for the tennis court and service building improvements but also indicated a strong preference for accomplishing this work within the previously approved budget of $4.2 million. The issue was revisited during Council’s Retreat in January, emerging as one of four “Tier One” priorities for 2023.
Since that time, Staff has been working with our design consultants at OHM Advisors and recreation consultant Ballard King to determine the best path forward for this phase of the Northam Park Vision Plan, and they are readying to present their findings to the community, per the following schedule:
- 7pm, Monday, May 1 – City Council Presentation 1
- 6:30 pm, Wednesday, May 10 – Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Presentation
- 7 pm, Monday, May 15 – City Council Presentation 2
All meetings will be held at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road and public input on this issue is welcomed and encouraged. Community members who cannot attend these meetings in person are encouraged to contact the Parks & Recreation Department at [email protected]
After receiving input from the community, the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and City Council, City staff will finalize the design of the tennis courts and service buildings and will solicit bids from qualified construction firms in the Fall of 2023. If the construction bids are within budget, staff will seek approval of the construction contracts in the Winter of 2024.
Tentatively scheduled for 2025