Friday, August 26, 2005

Central Park goes into Woodside mix

City project to be completed by 2007

Express Staff Writer

Hailey Parks and Lands Board Chairwoman Becki Keefer described the plan for Central Woodside Park Thursday morning as crews began to excavate the land to make way for new park facilities. Largely a volunteer effort made by Woodside citizens, the new city park will include playing fields and restrooms to be built on nine acres of the developable land now owned by the city. Photo by David N. Seelig

It may not look like much yet, but Central Park is coming to Hailey—Woodside Central Park that is.

"This has been brought by dedicated volunteers," said Hailey Parks and Lands Board Chairwoman Becki Keefer, describing the work just begun to develop the new city park in central Woodside.

Workers began preparing Thursday nine acres of usable ground at the site, which will have a regulation-sized soccer field that will double as a rugby pitch, a little-league baseball diamond, a children's play structure, restrooms and possibly a Frisbee golf course, but not for a couple of years.

"This phase is really dull and boring, simply to get the skeletal part of the park there," Keefer said, explaining that to create quality playing fields special care will be taken in construction of the fields. Workers are busy sifting dirt for high-grade topsoil, which can result in completion of fields requiring less maintenance in the long run. The hard structure, the last phase of the project, is expected to begin during the 2007 construction season.

The plan for the park also includes a trailhead to the Toe of the Hill Trail being constructed as an off-leash, dog-friendly path between Wood River High School and the new Woodside Elementary School. The trailhead project will include a drinking fountain.

"We are trying to get the soccer field in this fall and growing good and strong in 2007 if all goes well," Keefer said.

Once grading of the property is completed the city will be looking at ways to get the best topsoil for the best cost. Some of the fill may come from topsoil that has been conserved at the site of the new Woodside Elementary School currently under construction.

"We're trying to get creative," Keefer said. "We decided to pay up front for better dirt. In you use crummy dirt, you end up paying through the nose for ongoing maintenance. What (the crews are) doing is screening the dirt to see if its adequate. If nothing else we'll have to truck it in."

Keefer said the closest available dirt for purchase of sufficient quality for playing fields is in Richfield and Shoshone.

Once the proper dirt is in place, the city will plant two types of grass, regular turf for the playing fields and grasses that are more water resistant and less maintenance heavy for the perimeters—which should help the city to conserve water, Keefer said.

The park development will also include new irrigation technology, moisture sensors, which trigger the sprinkler system to turn on only when necessary, said city Public Works Manager Ray Hyde. He said the technology is partially experimental and should help the city conserve water. He said if it is effective, as he expects, the experiment will encourage more use of water-conserving technology throughout the valley.

"(This) is what dedicated volunteers can get done if they stick with it," Keefer said. "We hope to have a grand opening when it's green and pretty next spring."

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