The design is done and construction may begin soon on St. Charles County’s newest park after the award of a construction contract on Feb. 13.
The County Council approved a $6.82 million contract to C. Rallo Contracting Co., Inc. for development of the 120-acre park property, bordered by Pitman Hill and Kisker roads, that the county bought for $6 million in 2014. C. Rallo was the low bidder among seven companies seeking the project.
Plans call for the county to intensively develop about 90 acres of what was formerly known as the Sammelmann Farm and Homestead. The property is on undeveloped land in an area with extensive residential development and fewer parks than other parts of the county.
Construction could begin in March and the park is expected to be ready to open in early 2018, said Parks and Recreation Director Bettie Yahn-Kramer.
The work will include an off-leash dog park, two lakes, a large, inclusive playground, walking and biking trails, three rentable-shelters, a fishing dock, multiple walking trails that cross streams and a walk the extends across the bridge. A walking and bicycle trail near Pitman Hill Road will cross Baltic Creek.
The park’s design follows closely the input county officials received from the public. The County Council reviewed detailed plans last year for developing the major portion of the park.
Officials said that the park design is largely based on a 2014 survey of county residents. Residents suggested the park remain as natural as possible with hiking and biking trails ranked highest followed by picnic areas, lakes and natural conservation areas.
The property, because of its rolling terrain that required extensive earth-moving, floodway areas and underground pipelines, presented design challenges. The idea was to stay within $9 million for park development, Yahn-Kramer said. She said the county is pleased that the construction bid came in at $6.92 million. The bids submitted by seven firms were all under $9 million – the highest was $8.20 million.
Jay Wohlschlaeger, a partner with SWT Design of St. Louis, the lead design firm hired by the county, told council members last October that his firm took citizen input and “really created a park that provides that county park experience in a much more suburban setting than your typical St. Charles County park.”
Wohlschlaeger said amenities suggested in the plan include a 1.6-mile perimeter trail along with a series of internal trails that link up to other amenities. “Trails were the number one priority from the [citizen] input,” Wohlschlaeger said.
The park will also feature two lakes or four acres of water. Six acres in the northern part of the park would be left as open fields to allow informal play, such as soccer practice or flying kites.
The picnic shelters planned include a main shelter for 100 people, restrooms and a three-acre dog park divided for large and small dogs.
Another major feature is destination playground centered near an old grain silo – the one element retained from the farm. The around 100-year-old silo will remain part of the park.
“The idea is to create an inclusive play experience,” Wohlschlaeger said. The playground is designed for all children, no matter their ability.
Construction bids opened Jan. 17. Work could begin this month with completion by November or December.
The park was purchased with money from the county’s Park Fund, a voter-approved local use tax dedicated to park funding. The council makes final decisions on hiring contractors and the plan. Councilmembers had few questions about the plan in October and asked none when they approved the bid from C. Rallo this month.
The county has 12 parks, the latest being The Historic Daniel Boone Home at Lindenwood Park near Defiance, acquired earlier this year. The 80-acre College Meadows Park opened in 2014 and is adjacent to the St. Charles Community College campus in Cottleville.