James Lee Park expansion in the works | RecordCourier.com
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James Lee Park expansion in the works

by Nancy Hamlett

The Indian Hills General Improvement District recently announced the start of construction on new facilities at James Lee Park, located on the west side of the district.

Jim Bentley, GID general manager, said park additions would include a lighted baseball field with a soccer overlay, bleachers, a concession stand, additional parking and a new street into the facility. Existing overhead electrical lines will be placed underground to facilitate kite flying.

Project costs are $760,000, with $693,000 coming from Douglas County’s residential construction tax, a tax on all new residential construction.

“For the past five years, we’ve been adding between 100 and 110 new residences every year, which has generated substantial tax money to the fund,” said Bentley. The balance of the cost, $67,000, will be funded by the GID.

The additional money from GID coffers covers items that RCT resources won’t fund.

“For instance, RCT money pays for hydro-seeding, but we wanted the park to be usable right away, so the GID is paying for 89,000 square feet of sod,” said Bentley.

Bentley described the new additions to the park as the first of many phases. Phase two includes a skateboard park and two more ball fields. Also planned for future improvements are tennis courts and a BMX track.

“It took three years to get the money for phase one, but now that we have been through the process, we don’t anticipate that it will take as long to get funded the next time,” said Bentley.

“We hope to start the process all over again in the fall, and we can start on the next phase within two years,” he said.

Although the park is owned by the Indian Hills GID, Douglas County Community Services Director Scott Morgan said RCT funding places certain conditions on the facility.

“The park must be run like a county facility, with no differentiation between Indian Hills and other residents,” said Morgan. “The same fees and rules apply for all Douglas County parks, whether they are in Indian Hills or not.”

The new construction will be focused in the center of 200-acre James Lee Park where other improvements already exist. Bentley said that outlying areas of the park are reserved for hiking trails and other activities.

“Through grants from the state and federal government, we have developed a mini-trailhead at Coloma Street, with plans to develop another trailhead on Vista Grande, behind Home Depot,” said Bentley. “Eventually, we hope to have a series of trails leading into the Forest Service lands and trails connecting the two trailheads.”

Bentley anticipates the park improvements to be completed by April 1.

“The GID contracted with Ace Asphalt and they plan to meet the target date, weather permitting,” said Bentley.

People or organizations wanting to reserve portions of the park need to contact the Indian Hills GID. The office is located at 924-D Mica Dr., and the phone number is 267-2805.

“The sod company recommends that we wait two weeks for the grass to set, but we’re going to be cautious and give it a month,” said Bentley. “By May 1, we should have a fine new facility for Little League, soccer and the general public.”