Plans in works for improvements at James Lee Park | RecordCourier.com
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Plans in works for improvements at James Lee Park

by Christy Chalmers, staff reports

Little Leaguers in Indian Hills may be answering the call to “Play ball!” on a new, lighted field next spring.

The field is one of several improvements planned for James Lee Park and is welcomed by Indian Hills General Improvement District leaders, who remember the first steps to develop the park 16 years ago.

“This has been a long, long, long process. We would like to see it go forward,” said GID trustee Ron Kruse. “It’s needed in the community. It’s needed in the county.”

“We need these kids to be active in something that’s good so they don’t become active in something that’s not good,” agreed fellow trustee Dianne Humble Fournier.

Douglas County planners approved a special use permit for the park Aug. 8. GID manager Jim Bentley said work could start in October and be completed in spring 2001.

County officials must approve the design of the improvements before bids are sought for the job. Indian Hills has $572,000 in construction taxes assessed on houses that have been built in the area to pay for the improvements. The district will fund ongoing operation and maintenance costs.

The park now includes an unlighted ball field, a gazebo, play areas and restrooms on five acres. Ultimately, three more lighted ball fields, another gazebo, a skateboard park, more parking, a new access and possibly a community center and office complex are planned for the 74-acre site.

The park is bounded by U.S. Forest Service land on the west and houses on the other three sides. To minimize the glare from field lights, a state-of-the-art system that is designed to direct light down and away from adjacent properties will be installed.

The work will be done in phases. The first will bring a lighted ball field, a concession stand, bleachers and additional parking. Two tennis courts may be built if there’s enough money, Bentley said.

Indian Hills voters will decide in November if they want to proceed with a community center and office complex. Informal surveys have indicated support for one, but design work was suspended earlier in the year after some trustees expressed concern about the financial feasibility of building the facility. Those trustees are no longer in office.