MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (8/26/13) – Construction is set to begin on the new Muhlenberg County Park located adjacent to Muhlenberg County High School West Campus between Dean Road and Highway 181.
Steve Wells, Chairman of the Board of the Greater Muhlenberg Parks and Recreation System elaborated, "The Muhlenberg County Park will be a great asset to the county; transcending far beyond just recreation. When we consider the scope and opportunities associated with this project, it is truly exciting. The park will service many of the current recreational needs of the county and will continue to do so for generations to come. Additionally, parks similar to this scale in other areas have delivered significant financial impact to the local economies."
A public groundbreaking ceremony for the new park will be held on September 6 at 9:30am behind the baseball field at Muhlenberg County High School West Campus.
During the next year, construction will be completed on the first phase of the park which will develop 35 acres of the 250-acre park property. This phase will include a youth baseball / softball complex with five fields and a concession area, all of which will be ADA accessible. The baseball complex will feature top of the line athletic fields and facilities with scoreboards, announce systems, batting cages, covered dugouts and sheltered viewing areas. The concession area will have state of the art amenities including new bathroom facilities. The first phase of construction will also include several tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic shelters and a playground. The park features beautiful landscaping with initial construction plans including a ¾ mile walking track around the softball fields as well as many areas for relaxing throughout the park property. A permanent office building and meeting facility will house the office of the Greater Muhlenberg Parks and Recreation System. These offices will serve as a central location for all parks program sign-ups and information. Additional features are included in the design and will be added as fundraising goals are met.
The Muhlenberg County Park plans to host a variety of both local and regional athletic programs on its many sporting fields. At this time, plans are being finalized to host regional tournaments at the new facilities starting in the summer of 2014. Ken Robinson of the Muhlenberg Alliance for Progress analyzed the impact of potential tournament opportunities. He reports that, Not only will regional tournaments provide opportunities for Muhlenberg County youth, but the economic impact could be great as well.
Each player and their family who attend a tournament will mean more revenue for local businesses, especially restaurants, stores & hotels. Additionally, this partnership and level of investment sends a positive message to potential companies that Muhlenberg County has a great quality of life which can become a deciding factor when locating a new business.
The development of the Muhlenberg County Park is the largest private/public partnership that has been undertaken in Muhlenberg County. The Muhlenberg County School system is a key partner and has leased 250 acres behind the high school West Campus to the Park System for 99 years. The partnership with the school system is key, said Kathy Jacobi, President of the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation. The School Board saw the vision of how this type of facility could benefit the County.
Judge Rick Newman of the Muhlenberg County Fiscal Court is also very pleased to be a part of this unique partnership. He commented that, “The economic impact will be a tremendous boost to our county and will have a significant trickle-down effect on our businesses. The county will continue to assist the Park system in moving forward.”
Private donations have already been secured to begin initial construction of the park, with the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation assuming the role of lead funder. A county-wide capital campaign is being initiated, seeking business, family and individual sponsors to complete the construction of the initial phase. Naming rights for fields and courts will be available for many of the early funders of the project. The Greater Muhlenberg Parks and Recreation System plans to raise all funds necessary to complete Phase 1 by May 2014 so that the Park will be available for use during the summer of 2014.
The Muhlenberg County Park was initially conceived as part of the 10-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The Master Plan was developed over 18 months by a committee of 28 people from across the county. This process was guided by Pat Hoagland of Brandstetter Carroll, leading parks architecture design firm based in Lexington, KY. The Parks Master Plan was one of the first large projects funded by the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation, and addresses the Foundation s two key areas of focus economic development and youth services.
Kathy Jacobi feels that the County Park is a great fit with what the Foundation is trying to accomplish in the County. “Our initial needs assessment study clearly showed that there was a need for projects that could contribute to economic development as well as meet the needs of young people. The County Park will do just that it will provide everyone in the County with recreation opportunities, and also be a venue where we can welcome visitors to our County for tournaments and other competitions.”
The design for the County Park was completed by Brandstetter Carroll this summer. Pat Hoagland commented that Brandstetter Carroll has provided park design services throughout the Eastern United States since 1979. In that time, the first phase of Muhlenberg County Park is the largest single construction phase of a park that the firm has had the pleasure to design. It is common to plan for parks to be developed in phases, but this is a larger phase than communities can typically fund. The first phase sets the groundwork for the rest of park with a road network and major utilities established for future phases.
A map of the proposed County Park and a list of all current recreational programming can be found on the Greater Muhlenberg Parks & Recreation Service website at www.mcparks.org. You can also follow the GMPRS on Facebook to keep up to date on current happenings. A full copy of the 10-year Parks & Recreation Master Plan can be found at http://www.felixmartinfoundation.org/parks.aspx
Information provided by Alyssa Manning (Felix E. Martin, Jr. Foundation)
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