HARRISONBURG — Rockingham County officials are hoping to one day create a new home for Little Leaguers and recreational soccer players to score runs and goals.
Efforts continue to progress to build a new and improved Albert Long Park on a 74-acre tract near the intersection of U.S. 33 and Indian Trail Road, east of Harrisonburg.
Planning is at a “very preliminary” stage, said William Vaughn, assistant county administrator.
Further development of the project is dependent on community engagement and support in addition to funding, said Joe Paxton, county administrator.
At the May 14 Board of Supervisors meeting, the county awarded a $156,660 contract to Snyder Environmental Services, of Kearneysville, W.Va., to bore utility casings under U.S. 33 and Cross Keys Road.
Indian Trail Road becomes Cross Keys Road on the south side of U.S. 33. The park property is to the northwest of the intersection.
During the June 18 board meeting, Public Works Director Barry Hertzler reported that Valley Engineering had submitted plans on utilities and turn lanes on U.S. 33 for vehicles entering the property.
By the end of the year, the county hopes to have installed the necessary water and sewer connections for the park and build the turn lanes and access road to the property, according to Stephen King, deputy county administrator.
In December, the board awarded a contract to The Timmons Group, a Richmond-based engineering and design company, to develop a master plan for the recreational complex.
Those conceptual plans were presented to county staff at a May 30 work session.
The Timmons Group plans for the park include two baseball fields, two softball fields, four multiuse fields, two basketball courts, three playgrounds, four open-air shelters, a concession stand, an amphitheater, a walking trail, and a splash pad, which is a water feature that often incorporates a fountain.
While the plans for the park are ambitious, there is no firm timetable established for the implementation of the project.
Beyond the initial infrastructure to be completed by the end of the year, Paxton identified the construction of a baseball field, softball field, and a multipurpose field as the immediate needs for the county’s youth athletics.
The county does not own any outdoor sports facilities apart from baseball and softball fields in Bergton, Singers Glen and Broadway.
The county works with public schools, Oakdale Park in Bridgewater, privately owned Monger Park and ruritan parks in Mount Crawford and western Rockingham to schedule field use at those locations.
The original Albert Long Park, which hosted youth baseball games from the 1970s until 2010, was significantly reduced in size in order to make room for the southeast connector project that expanded Stone Spring Road and Reservoir Street.
With continuing development in the area, the county decided the location was no longer suitable for recreation and declared it surplus property in July 2010.
Recreation Director Kathy McQuain said that completion of the new park would require hiring maintenance and custodial staff, as well as seasonal jobs.
In addition, McQuain believes that there would be “spin-off” benefits if the park were to hold tournaments or regional events, which would bring visitor dollars to local businesses’ coffers.
If the conceptual plans are fully realized, the estimated cost for the park will run more than $25 million.
This comes at a time when the county’s resources are limited, and other needs — such as education, fire and rescue service, and an expanded or new jail — must also be considered.
However, Paxton said, “The community is very interested in recreation.”
The Board of Supervisors will take a closer look at the project in the coming months.
Contact Bryan Gilkerson at 574-6267 or email@example.com