New downtown park plans endorsed — with caution

City residents support new development in Rotary Recreation Park as long as it doesn’t swallow up green space, says a consultant working on a conceptual plan for the downtown Red Deer area.

City residents support new development in Rotary Recreation Park as long as it doesn’t swallow up green space, says a consultant working on a conceptual plan for the downtown Red Deer area.

Craig Webber, principal with Group2 Architecture Engineering Ltd. of Red Deer, said more than 90 written responses plus feedback from various public forums showed what residents generally want for Rotary Recreation Park and South Area site.

“There was a desire to preserve the park-like setting,” Webber said on Thursday. “People were generally supportive of some development as long as it was done in a balanced way, preserving features of the park that people connected to.”

The city is looking at how best to use the area, which stretches from the outdoor speedskating oval north of the Golden Circle, past the museum, Recreation Centre, tennis courts and south to where the Red Deer Arena and Kinex Arena are found. The site also runs adjacent to Pioneer Lodge on the east side, but does not include the Rotary playground south of the Red Deer Lodge.

Webber said there was general support for enhanced aquatics and museum building development, along with improvements to the tennis courts area.

People are also keen for minor park improvements like better lighting.

“They don’t want to see so much development that you start to undo the reasons it was a special place in the first place,” Webber said.

The gravel parking lot, which exists across from the arenas, was one negative aspect to the park and could be improved, he added.

The conceptual plan comes out of a Community Assets Needs Assessment, which was done last year to set the direction of recreation, parks and culture facility development over the next 25 years.

Webber said more input will be sought from stakeholder groups, including those who want a 50-metre competitive swimming pool.

A visioning workshop will be held with urban planner Michael von Hausen, who helped with the Greater Downtown Action Plan. It will take place in mid-August. With input from that workshop, he will help develop preliminary concepts with Group2.

Following that, a public open house will be held Aug. 19.

“Some design concepts will be unveiled,” Webber said.

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