While most of Surprise Farms Park received upgrades and new amenities in 2015, a parcel of more than eight acres remained barren, except for a long, green fence and an irrigation pond.
During its Feb. 21 meeting, the Surprise City Council voted unanimously to spend $ 500,000 of its fiscal year 2016 budget surplus on replacing the dirt with turf and surround the irrigation pool with what City Manager Bob Wingentroth called attractive wrought-iron fencing.
“It is surrounded by a chain-link fence that has green tarp on it. It’s been like that for years,” Mr. Wingenroth said during the meeting. “The way that the pond works is, it slowly fills up with reclaimed water. Then when the pumps go on, the water goes down. It was a safety issue and that’s why we put up the fence.”
As councilman Roland Winters mentioned during the meeting, this part of the Surprise Farms park system was envisioned as an aquatic center more than a decade ago. That fell through and the 8.5 acres east of the park’s softball fields remained vacant other than the irrigation.
Further east a skate park, dog park and splash pad, along with other amenities, were added two years ago. This project will provide turf to allow for soccer, tee ball and other youth sports.
“Thank you for bringing this project forward, it’s been long overdue. The city had good intentions to put an aquatics center there but when the recession hit we didn’t have the money. I’ve heard a lot about this from my constituents in Surprise Farms II and the surrounding area. I’ve gotten a lot of emails starting a year ago. It’s obvious this is a really strong issue for residents as it is for me.”
Granding and curbing the parcel will make up a good portion of the bill. The Surprise Farms III homeowners association is contributing $20,000 to the project, which Mr. Wingenroth said is something he has not seen in his career previously.
The HOA also plans to handle the $60,000 yearly operating cost in the first three years with the turf.
“You can see why this is so important to our community. It’s a plus for the city too. A lot of people put a lot of work into this,” said Mark Beaudry, Surprise Farms III HOA president.