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Vernon piecing together Kin Race Track plan

Test fit results conducted by staff presented to council; parking remains an issue
City of Vernon staff presented a ‘test fit’ of proposed amenities for an athletic park to be built on the old Kin Race Track site. (City of Vernon photo)

It’s like a really large jigsaw puzzle.

Does this piece go here? Can it go here? This is too big, it won’t work here.

Vernon council was presented with a report on a test fit of requested amenities for the proposed athletic park at the old Kin Race Track site during its regular meeting Monday, Feb. 28.

The test fit was able to include the Active Living Centre (pool with two gymnasiums); synthetic fields; sport courts for spring, summer and fall, frozen in the winter for outdoor skating; ball diamonds; walking trails, dog park; BX Creek crossing; access to Old Kamloops Road; parking; and smaller features like a playground and water play area.

“The test fit also includes a ‘promenade,’ which provides pedestrian access through the park and access for emergency vehicles or event set up,” said Laurie Cordell, Vernon’s manager of long-range planning and sustainability.

In her report to council Cordell expressed a dozen items for council to consider.

Notably absent from the test fit plan is a requested 100,000 square foot covered field house. It does not fit with the other requested components and required parking, said Cordell, who suggested the possibility of adding a third gym to the Active Living Centre, rather than a free-standing field house.

“The third gym could be designed with operable walls to make the flow between indoor and outdoor courts seamless and have flooring that is adaptable to allow markets as well as a variety of sport uses,” she said.

The two ball diamonds recommended would replace the four existing diamonds used by minor softball and women’s slo-pitch. The test fit shows ball diamonds that are sized for minor baseball.

This was done following a review of the Park Master Plan and Recreation Master Plan which indicate an adequate supply of fields but identify that there may be a potential future need for midget or minor baseball fields.

“We could look at putting those two diamonds at Polson Park. They’d fit perfectly there inside the oval,” said Coun. Akbal Mund.

The two synthetic fields – which council is taking great pains not to refer to them as ‘soccer pitches,’ given the handful of such at Marshall Field – leave no space for lay-down areas or for a team to gather beside the field. The proposed location in the test fit has a high water table and would require a large amount of gravel fill to prevent freeze-thaw cycles that can damage the field.

The natural wetlands in the middle of the site were included in staff’s original plan and addressed stormwater issues. The area is now required for other amenities as per council’s direction.

A small skate park – or possibly two of them – may fit on site.

The park could accommodate outdoor events and concerts by adding a location for event power or having portable staging.

Parking remains one piece of the puzzle that hasn’t found a home yet.

Cordell said parking requirements for the proposed uses in the park fit, but take up considerable space.

Mayor Victor Cumming motioned for staff to look at possible parking solutions along Old Kamloops Road as well as a cycling path, and Coun. Kari Gares motioned for staff to look at a design and costs for proposed surface-level parking beneath the Active Living Centre, which would free up space. Both motions were supported unanimously.

As it stands now, Cordell said high-level costing for a park with all of these components would likely be in the $40 million range, and yearly maintenance would be around a high-level mark of $415,000.

The parking reports and a concept plan for public engagement are slated to be presented to council on April 25.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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