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Master Plan Outlines Major Improvements on 387-acre Park

City of Huntsville October 17, 2012
(Huntsville, AL) - Ask anyone where John Hunt Park is located and you will likely receive a quizzical look. Call it the Old Airport, and almost everyone will know what you are speaking about. The City of Huntsville is hoping to change that.

Mayor Tommy Battle, the Departments of Planning and Parks & Recreation, and the Sports Commission presented a new master plan Wednesday for the 387-acre park at Airport Road and Memorial Parkway. The plan provides for a network of activity centers interspersed with running and walking trails, bike paths, playgrounds and park areas. This includes new and updated facilities, new venues for regional athletic tournaments and large-scale sporting and recreational events.

"We think it's time to get rid of the old airport runways and create our own central park with a variety of activities for all citizens," said Mayor Battle. "John Hunt Park is a beautiful site, and we want to see it realize its full potential."

Centrally located, John Hunt Park is approximately 10 miles from Huntsville's outermost city limits in any direction.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • New playground with interactive splash fountain, group pavilions, picnic facilities, expanded lawn/play areas, and walking/jogging paths
  • Expanded multi-use sports field facilities
  • Expanded tennis complex with additional courts and support structures
  • Expanded parking for the tennis and baseball complexes
  • Improved access to the golf course
  • New walking/exercise course with support facilities
  • Expanded cross country running course and support facilities
  • 34,000 SF Ice Complex expansion to accommodate a third sheet of ice
  • New 4,000 seat multi-purpose indoor athletic facility
  • New 15-acre festival area with a 25,000 SF multi-purpose community building, plaza, outdoor amphitheater, pavilions and picnic facilities, walking/jogging trails, lawn exhibit area, and water feature/lake
  • Vehicular/pedestrian connection to Brahan Springs Park

The Huntsville Sports Commission believes the new recreational facilities in the plan will allow Huntsville to become a premier sports destination.

"Tournaments and sporting events are big business and good, wholesome fun," said Ralph Stone, Sports Commission Executive Director. "They stimulate tourism, generate new revenues for local businesses, and increase sales and use taxes."

Mayor Battle envisions the master plan implemented in two phases. Construction on phase one would begin with proposed projects to the southern section of the Park along with infrastructure improvements to the north. To pay for this portion of the project, the City of Huntsville is looking at various sources of revenues, including, but not limited to, the sale of City property, earmarked sales tax revenues, public-private partnerships, and naming opportunities.

This includes selling a 25-acre tract of property near the Airport Road Memorial Parkway intersection for retail development. The funds would help purchase land near McDonnell Elementary School on Triana Boulevard for a new multi-use sports field complex. This would accommodate youth soccer, lacrosse, and other active sports using the non-tournament fields at John Hunt Park.

"The multipurpose fields at John Hunt Park are not in the best shape, and we are excited at the prospect of having a separate park dedicated for these activities," said Greg Patterson, Director of Parks & Recreation.

Once the fields are relocated, work can begin on the southern end of John Hunt Park. The City will remove existing remnants of the asphalt runways, derelict fencing and obsolete utility equipment; plant grass and trees, construct a new children's playground; and expand walking, exercise and running paths.

"Further progress on the park will depend on new sources of funding and public-private partnerships," said Mayor Battle. "We are pledging to earmark 25 percent of the sales tax generated by the new retail development on Airport Road to the ongoing development of John Hunt Park."

Phase two of the master plan will focus on facilities in the park's northern section.

"Based upon demand, we see the need for a third sheet of ice at the IcePlex, a 100,000 square foot indoor arena for activities like volleyball, wrestling, and cheerleading, and two more tournament quality multi-use sport fields," said Steve Ivey, Recreation Services Manager. "We also want to have a festival site for art shows and musical performances, and we want it to have a nice building with a catering kitchen that would be suitable for parties and fundraisers."

The City acknowledges it will take time to fully implement the master plan. Public-private partnerships will be important as the park redevelops.

To encourage citizen input, Mayor Battle has launched "Imagine Huntsville," an online community forum to receive citizen comments on the master plan.

"We want to know what you think about our ideas, and we invite you to offer a few of your own," said Mayor Battle.

Join the conversation about John Hunt Park at www.ImagineHuntsville.com

**below is a digital image of concept**

For more information, contact:

Jessica Carlton, Communications Assistant, Office of the Mayor, City of Huntsville, 256-427-5000 (w), jessica.carlton@huntsvilleal.gov


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