Ten tennis courts, expanded soccer fields, pickleball courts, additional picnic shelters, a children's play area, a walking trail and a dog park are all possibilities for Richmond Hill Park, but will they become reality? That's up to the public.
About this story: An architectural firm has submitted a plan to the City of Geneseo for what could be done at Richmond Hill Park. Officials now want citizens to share what they feel the top priorities are for the site. The goal is to have the park meet the community's needs.
Ten tennis courts, expanded soccer fields, pickleball courts, additional picnic shelters, a children’s play area, a walking trail and a dog park are all possibilities for Richmond Hill Park, but will they become reality? That’s up to the public.
At the Tuesday, Dec. 12 city council meeting, aldermen heard a preliminary proposal from Steve Konters of Hitchcock Design Group of what could be done at Richmond Hill.
City officials said they’ve received requests for updates and changes to Richmond Hill Park from various interested parties, including soccer, tennis and pickleball supporters.
Instead of attempting to piecemeal together a plan for the park, the city hired a landscape architecure firm to explore possibilities.
“This is a very preliminary conversation,” said city administrator Lisa Kotter. “We need to balance the needs of all the groups and figure out what’s important to the vast majority of the public.”
Officials from Hitchcock Design Group toured the park, met with community members and asked for public response to an online survey before developing their proposal.
Nearly 800 individuals responded to the online survey.
The responses indicated the plan needed to be considerate to neighbors but also improve parking, restrooms and picnic shelters. Respondents wanted dedicated pickleball courts, expanded tennis courts, walking trails and improved tennis courts.
When asked what amenities they currently use at the park, the top responses were: playgrounds, soccer fields, picnic areas, shelters and tennis courts.
“Both the outdoor and enclosed shelters were very popular,” said Konters. The proposal includes building additional picnic shelters at the park.
Konters said respondents also emphasized a desire to maintain the natural beauty of the park. “It’s an area rich in beauty with a lot of mature trees and unique topography,” he said.
The proposed plan for Richmond Hill Park would leave the Barn Theatre and the Stone Field baseball diamond exactly as is.
The site’s current tennis court facility could be expanded to include 10 courts if the parking lot to the south of the courts is narrowed.
Under the proposed plan, only five of the 10 courts would have lighting, but the additional courts would allow the high school to host tennis tournaments.
The existing large enclosed shelter near the courts could be expanded to include restrooms and a concession stand.
Near the tennis courts could be two other courts which the public could decide to either make pickleball courts or basketball courts.
The existing playground could be replaced and expanded, allowing space for a potential splash pad
A covered picnic shelter east of the Barn Theatre was destroyed last year when a tree fell on it during a storm. That shelter area could be replaced with a gazebo shelter.
With Hitchcock’s plan, the two softball fields used by the church softball league would be removed to make room for additional soccer fields.
“There’s no possible way to have additional soccer fields if we keep the softball fields there,” explained Kotter, who added there had been early talks of moving the league games to Bollen Fields.
“There’s no other place for soccer, but there is another place for softball,” she said.
A new restroom and concession area would be built near what is today the softball concession area.
In total, seven soccer fields of various sizes could fit at Richmond Hill. Though that wouldn’t be enough to host large-scale tournaments, the site could host smaller tournaments, particularly those for younger soccer players.
The western edge of Richmond Hill Park would have space for an enclosed dog park.
The proposed plans encompass the park area west of Stewart Street. The disc golf and sledding hill areas would remain the same.
An asphalt walking trail would wind its way through the re-designed portion of the park.
Additional amenities such as an amphitheater stage, outdoor exercise equipment and picnic game areas were all featured on the plan.
In several areas, parking was expanded or reconfigured to add additional spaces. Water retention areas were incorporated into the design.
Konters estimated the total price tag for the changes to be $5.8 million. The work could be divided into phases. “This is a long term plan, but it’s not necessarily the plan,” said Konters.
City officials emphasized that the public would be central to any decisions made.
“This is not going to be a city plan. This is a plan based on input for the public,” said Kotter.
“We’re not saying we should go out and spend $5 million. We’re saying we don’t know what can be done at the park if we don’t know what will fit,” she explained.
“If you have a vision, you don’t get in your own way when you re-do small parts of the park, like replacing restrooms or building a new shelter,” said Konters. Without a vision, a new restroom could be built where the best spot for a soccer field might be, for instance.
The preliminary plan will now go back to the public for more input. The city plans to host a public meeting in January and send out an additional online survey regarding the park proposal.
“We view this process as us being stewards for the community,” said Kotter.
“The plan looks awesome to me, but it also looks like a wish list. It seems pretty pricey,” said alderman James Roodhouse.
Having a plan in place with rough cost estimates will allow the city to work with booster groups, corporate donors, other taxing bodies and private individuals to fund elements of the plan, said Kotter. A plan also gives the city a starting point when applying for grants.
“I think the plan did a good job of hitting up the key features people brought up,” said alderman Brenda Johnson.
Alderman Martin Rothschild said he felt the design needed more pickleball courts, and Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda said she felt it didn’t do enough to increase parking at Richmond Hill.