Early development ideas proposed by Richland officials for Badger Mountain’s Trailhead Park drew mostly criticism Wednesday.
City officials presented four ideas for developing a 50-year master plan for Trailhead Park — 40 acres at the foot of Badger Mountain the city bought in January 2006.
They included providing additional parking, but otherwise leaving the park as is; building a roughly 10-acre recreation center; building a number of ball fields and parking spaces on about 11 acres; or creating an “adventure park” that could include zip lines, shelters and gazebos, and chairlifts and alpine slides carved into a lower section of the hill.
All but the first option received negative reviews from the roughly 40 community members during the open house at the city shops on Duportail Street.
“Behind us is a perfect example of ‘too much for Badger Mountain,’” Gordon Smith said of the zip line and alpine slide concept.
Wednesday’s meeting was informal and consisted mostly of conversation between city officials and residents.
“We don’t really have a recommendation one way or the other,” Joe Schiessl, Richland’s Parks and Recreation director, told the crowd. He added, “You might love it, you might hate it — we want to hear about it.”
Schiessl said Trailhead Park is the largest park in the city without a master plan. Three of the four concepts presented Wednesday night were essentially shot down by the public.
“It seems pretty unanimous,” said Richland Parks and Public Facilities Manager Phil Pinard of the community’s reaction. “It may be that the best thing is not to do a master plan at this time.”
Pinard continued: “Eventually, what we’ll do is take it to the parks commission and let them make a recommendation to (the city) council.”
Pinard said a parks commission workshop could take place as early as January and a recommendation could come before the city council next spring.
“Obviously, we have a clear direction of where people want to go,” Pinard said.
There was no timeline or price tag attached to the concepts shown Wednesday.
Much of the audience’s concerns centered on possible noise and light pollution the developments could create. Additional visitors and a current lack of parking also were concerns.
“I appreciate the night sky, and I appreciate the environment, and I’d like to keep it that way,” resident Bob Rieck told the city officials.
The 10-acre recreation center would sit next to the existing landscaped park. A preliminary blueprint showed the recreation center complete with a swimming pool, gymnasium with basketball courts and batting cages, fitness room, banquet room with kitchen, men’s and women’s locker rooms, numerous classrooms and more.
The ball fields concept showed a number of fields sitting next to the existing park. The ball fields include regulation and youth-sized soccer fields that could be converted into a lacrosse field, as well as two tennis courts. The ball fields and parking areas would take up about 11 acres.
The fourth proposal was the most ambitious, and the most heavily criticized. It did not include a conceptual design, but instead showed various images of zip lines, shelters and gazebos, and chairlifts and alpine slides.
Playing the role of devil’s advocate, Richland resident George Kyriazis, who’s also president of the Horn Rapids Master Home Owners Association and a member of Friends of Badger Mountain, said Richland residents should consider change from multiple viewpoints.
“We have to think in the broader sense of community,” he told the audience, “for kids, for growth.”
Kyriazis later said he did not necessarily support zip lines and alpine slides at the foot of Badger Mountain, but that there might be a more appropriate area for the attractions, such as on the other side of Badger.
Pinard said that was not a likely option.