Wright City gets go-ahead for park development


This preliminary plan for the first phase of development in the Wright City park off Westwoods Road was released in August 2020.
By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

Wright City leaders got good news last week: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has cleared the city to go forward with construction of the first phase of a new 62-acre park on Westwoods Road. The notification came after just five months of review — a speedier turnaround than city officials were expecting.

City Administrator Jim Schuchmann said an approval letter was received on July 7.

“We have a couple things to get back with them on as far as crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s, signing the paperwork. But we did get Army Corps of Engineer approval on the plan,” Schuchmann told the Wright City Board of Aldermen during a July 8 public meeting. 

The plans that were reviewed are for the front section of the park where several baseball fields will be located.

The city was required to undergo the review because plans for park construction could impact streams governed by USACE. The review identified some small changes to creek crossings and culverts, but no drastic layout changes, Schuchmann said. 

“The next step is getting the final plan together and then presenting it to (aldermen) and seeing about going out to bids,” Schuchmann said.

Alderman Ramiz Hakim asked if the city has any flexibility to change its plans for the park, now that USACE has stamped them. Changes would need to be limited, Schuchmann replied.

Aldermen then entered into a lengthy discussion about the layout of the baseball fields, specifically examining the length of the outfields. Although original plans for the park showed tournament-regulation lengths of 300 feet, Schuchmann said engineers had shortened that somewhat to preserve a tree line between the fields and the neighboring Spring Hill subdivision. He said that was a result of a commitment made by previous aldermen.

“If you try to max that field out all the way to the property line, then you’ve got to take down every tree going down that property line,” Schuchmann explained. Going back two years, he said property owners expressed a desire to keep the trees as a barrier against noise and activity at the park.

But aldermen said having the fields be a viable venue for outside tournaments to rent out is a key objective for the sports fields. That will draw in new revenue for future park improvements and other city projects. If the fields aren’t the correct size, the effort will be self-defeating, said Alderman Michelle Heiliger.

Each of the other three aldermen agreed that having undersized fields isn’t a viable option, even if the alternative is removing the neighborhood’s tree barrier. Alderman Ramiz Hakim said the city needs to be up front with those residents that the plans will have to change.

“We need to give the residents who live in that subdivision the dignity of being heard and communicating with them, and have tough, crucial conversations with them,” Hakim said.

Schuchmann said one benefit for the residents, if the trees are removed, is that it will give construction crews the chance to build a stormwater channel to fix drainage issues that have been pestering the neighborhood.

Schuchmann said he will call project engineers with Bax Engineering to provide their input at the next board of aldermen meeting.

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