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Open house reveals additional details about future county park

This concept drawing details suggested amenities for the county’s newest major park.

This concept drawing details suggested amenities for the county’s newest major park.

The newest major St. Charles County park is expected to be developed with more of a nod toward a natural setting rather than athletic fields with lots of lights.

The St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department has unveiled a new concept plan for the development of three tracts – totaling 120 acres – that are bordered by Pitman Hill and Kisker roads and which were acquired in 2014 for $6 million.

A concept drawing unveiled at an open house held at the Kisker Road Library in July indicates a paved walking trail, nature play area, a banquet facility and meeting facility, a wetlands boardwalk, disc golf course, fishing lake, and three soccer fields. But Bettie Yahn-Kramer, the county’s director of parks and recreation, said on July 13 that those would be “more like practice fields.”

Yahn-Kramer said in an e-mail to Mid Rivers Newsmagazine that the fields will not be lighted and the idea is that they would be fields where pick-up games of soccer or sports could be played. There are no plans to rent the fields out for practices or game use, she said.

After the county acquired the park, also known as the former Sammelmann Farm and Homestead, the county conducted a survey asking for citizen input about how to develop the park. In all, 3,837 surveys were submitted.

“Overall, the survey revealed that citizens were very interested in seeing natural recreation amenities in the park, which include walking trails, fishing ponds, picnic shelters and nature and conservation areas,” Yahn-Kramer said.

The survey suggested that residents were also interested in playgrounds, formal flower gardens, off-leash dog areas, a disc golf course, and meeting and banquet facilities.

County officials also have stressed since the acquisition of the property that it lies in an area that doesn’t have lots of undeveloped land and is easily accessible to a lot of people. The property also has some local history that can be preserved.

Yahn-Kramer said the park could open at the end of 2017 or early 2018. The next step for the county is to send out a request for qualifications or RFQ for a design and engineering firm, which will draw up construction plans for the park. That firm could be selected as early as this fall, she said. However, the design and engineering phase may take about a year to complete.

Once that phase is finished, the county will send out a request for bids (RFB) and then select a construction company to do the work, which may take another year or more to complete.

The County Council and County Executive Steve Ehlmann are expected to take an active role in planning the project, with the council approving any necessary bids.

The new park is the sixth county park in reserve for development. The county has about 3,156 acres in reserve.

Ten county parks are now open to the public. They include the St. Charles County Heritage Museum at Heritage Park in St. Peters; Louis H. Bangert Memorial Wildlife area in St. Charles; Broemmelsiek Park near O’Fallon; Hideaway Harbor Park near Portage des Sioux; Indian Camp Creek Park near Foristell and northwest of Wentzville; Klondike Park, in Augusta; Matson Hill Park in Defiance; Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville; Towne Park north of Wentzville; and the Youth Activity Park in Dardenne Prairie.

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