By Sarah Wright
SYRACUSE — In a packed two-hour meeting Monday, June 8, Syracuse Parks and Recreation board members were brought up to speed on department projects, COVID-19 responses and finances after a two-month break.
Park Superintendent Chad Jonsson outlined the Harold Schrock Athletic Complex move, which follows Polywood’s purchase of the current location on West Brooklyn Street. The new property is 23 acres and directly south of Kerns Crossing on the east side of Kern Road.
“We are still in the process of figuring this out,” Jonsson said. “We can develop four fields that are separate so the football field doesn’t overlap them.” Three fields would be between 225 to 250 feet, with the fourth being a 300-foot field for the middle school boys.
Jonsson noted the department has been contacted in the past about hosting overflow tournament games by the City-County Athletic Complex; with the new location, this could be a possibility. The department could hold its own tournaments, too.
“We’ve essentially doubled the acreage,” he said.
Parking is receiving special attention since the new location lacks overflow parking. Improvements from the existing facility are also being studied, from safety netting to concrete walkways, a basketball court and a playground.
When asked how the new facility is being funded, Jonsson explained, “There’s going to be a bond issue … that will be in the town’s name, but it will be paid for with tax revenue from the Polywood properties.” He added, “You as a taxpayer in Syracuse should not really see anything other than what the parks are putting into it as a potential expense.”
An uncertainty is how much will be available in the bond, but Jonsson stated, “It should replace and improve everything we have now.”
As far as COVID-19 updates, Jonsson noted playgrounds and the skate park remain closed with their openings to be determined, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan. Beaches have also been closed, though swim ropes were put out to dissuade boats from landing on the beach.
Park board advisor Donna Workman expressed concerns about unsafe behavior at Lakeside Park, including boaters not paying attention, swimmers leaving the swim area and people fishing off the beach.
Jonsson noted the park department can’t enforce the guidelines, adding in the past lifeguards have helped, but with the beaches closed, they weren’t hired and now most students will have moved on to other summer employment.
For the July 3-4 holiday, the town council will determine whether or not Lakeside Park will be open.
In other department news:
• A potential no-leash dog park is being examined after the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce’s placemaking committee uncovered interest. Town-owned property at Main Street and Dolan Drive is being considered.
• Heartland Restoration Services has done the first spraying in preparation for prairie plantings at Laudeman Park. The company will spray again in the fall.
• The addition to the maintenance building has essentially been completed, though power needs to be connected.
• Precise Pile Driving is scheduled to begin work on the lake control structure in Veteran’s Memorial Park June 22. The project is expected to conclude at the beginning of August.
• Municipal pier’s seawall has been rebuilt.
• Skate park enclosures are anticipated to arrive within the next week and a half. These will dampen sound and clean up the park a bit.
• Potential playground designs for Henry Ward Park were given to board members for input.
• The proposed 2021 budget will be presented at the next park board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, July 13.