Mayor Battle Presents Updated John Hunt Park Master Plan
October 25, 2018
John Hunt Park is rapidly on its way to earning its place as the City’s prime playground – a Central Park for all residents and visitors to enjoy. Major construction is under way in the park, and Mayor Tommy Battle took media on a tour of the improvements and updates to the park’s master plan. Here’s what’s happening!
Multiple configurations will be available for the new championship caliber cross-country running course, which can accommodate a 10K race for men’s and women’s track and field at the high school and collegiate level. The course will be a grass track planted with Bermuda and cut like a fairway so it will be fast for the runners. It will be at least 10 meters wide, have gradual inclines, bordered with shrubs, so it’s not wide open to the overall park.
In addition to the manicured cross-country course, the running park will include a 1.5 mile walking course. It will provide strategic points for spectators to watch the cross-country runners on race day.
The walking course will be constructed from a recycled tire product, which will allow large amounts of water to drain through it, minimizing the amount of stormwater flowing to the storm drains and basins. For every 1,000 square feet of walking trail, the City will keep approximately 24,000 tires from ending up in landfills.
The main walking trail has a continuous looped 8-foot wide path of 1.5 miles. The path will be ADA accessible throughout. An additional leg of the walking trail will run parallel to Memorial Parkway and will bring visitors along one of the existing ponds on the site culminating in a circular turn around at a pond and open area at the southeastern end of the property.
There will also be a disc golf area and room for a future driving range.
Next to the protected running course, mountain bikers will have their own rugged four-mile timed course to use for competition and play, an exciting feature for those who desire a challenging but more controlled environment.
Volleyball enthusiasts will be excited to see the 12 new sand courts prepped for action. With locker rooms, concessions areas, and spectator amenities needed to host large tournaments in addition to daily, recreational play.
TENNIS CENTER EXPANSION
On the southwest corner of John Hunt Park, the Tennis Center just finished construction of six new clay courts, bringing the total number of lighted playing courts to 30. The park master plan calls for an addition of ten more clay courts in the future.
Just south of the Tennis Center is the baseball/softball complex of four fields used regularly by our recreational and club teams. Renovations of this facility is planned in future phases of the park development.
On the northern side of the park, crews have been busy creating a festival area with in-ground utility service necessary for facilitating fairs, festivals, concerts, and other large-scale community events.
The festival site may be one of the biggest community assets. Outdoor events have grown to the point that it’s difficult for the City and organizations to handle all the logistical space and traffic requirements that come with managing large crowds. This site will have plenty of space, restrooms, and lighting – a blank slate for special events with plenty of parking.
Other work throughout the north side of the park includes building out a street network for accessing the various venues and enclosing the large drainage ditches allowing for underground management of stormwater and creating usable space above the infrastructure. This will be particularly important in the future expansion of the Championship Soccer/Lacrosse Complex.
In addition to the championship complex, several other fields are currently under complete reconstruction. This work will bring the fields to a higher level of quality, improve lighting, and add additional fields where the previously sloping terrain would not accommodate play. The Public Works and Landscape Management Departments also recently completed the addition of eight U-6 size soccer fields accommodating games for small children.
TREES & MORE TREES
A primary goal in the park is to reduce the asphalt from the old runways and create a greener environment. Green Team has led the way in planting hundreds and hundreds of hardwood trees around the park to create a future shade canopy.
The next tree-planting days at John Hunt will be held on Saturday, November 10, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Citizens helped donate funds to purchase quality species of trees, and volunteers help plant the trees in designated areas. One day in the not too distant future, John Hunt Park will be one of the greenest areas of the City.
The BIG Picture master plan calls for a new greenway that will run from downtown Huntsville to Lowe Mill to Brahan Spring Park to John Hunt Park. At the Oct. 25 City Council meeting, the City will ask Council Members to approve a $33,450 design contract with 4Site for the greenway segment running from John Hunt Park to Brahan Spring Park. The greenway will extend from Airport Road to Pinhook Creek and run along the waterway to the Huntsville Aquatics Center.
JOE DAVIS STADIUM
The old baseball stadium is part of John Hunt Park, and while there have been many active conversations about a future use of the site, the City has not committed to any particular development plans. We anticipate the stadium area will develop with additional recreational and athletic uses.
CAPITAL PLAN FUNDING
All of the work is being performed in John Hunt Park is a coordinated effort between a number of municipal departments. The total cost for the current phase of development (2016 – 2019) is about $17 million and is funded through the City’s capital plan. The costs would have been much higher if City departments had not helped to save money by performing much of the work in-house, such as drainage and site prep.
When this round of renovations is complete, the City will embark on the next series of upgrades and additions – two new multi-purpose playing fields, Kids Space renovations with shade canopies, a skateboard park and bike jump course.
JOHN HUNT PARK BACKGROUND
The 387-acre park was created in the late 60s on the site of the Huntsville airport. Named in honor of the city’s founder, John Hunt Park is equidistant between Huntsville’s northern and southern city limits.
The original “master plan” was announced in 1993, but Mayor Battle’s 2012 plan propelled the City to pump real resources into developing the park. The Mayor announced a 10-year plan to dramatically improve the park, with the goal of developing it into “Huntsville’s Central Park.” He solicited public input at town halls, visioning sessions, and through the BIG Picture master planning process. The plan depicts the public’s needs, wishes, and desires.