Auburn residents took in plans for Dinius Park last week, and generally voiced approval and excitement about the direction the city is going. 

The passive park will be different than other parks on which the city has worked, said Becky Richardson, director of the Parks and Recreation Department. 

"I think we’re excited about it because it’s a little different than any park we’ve done before in that it’s going to be very minimal clearing and the parking lot is going to be left very natural and won’t be paved," she said.

The park will be somewhat of a new concept for Auburn because it will be a "truly passive park," said Jason Weckerly of Foresite Group LLC, which is currently working on finalizing designs for the project.

"It’s a beautiful tree-covered park," he said. "We’re going to try to keep as many trees as possible, so we’ll work within the topography of the land and not do a lot of grading."

The passive park will feature a number of amenities, including a dog park, a small dog park, a natural playground and walking trails.

The dog park will be about an acre, the small dog park about half an acre, and both will feature fences that work within the natural landscape. 

"I think what’s unique about the dog park is we’re going to work it in within the trees, so no trees are going to be removed in the dog park and we’re just putting the fence in between the trees," said Weckerly.

The park will also have a restroom facility, a free-standing pavilion, about 3,500 linear feet of mulch trail and about 1,500 feet of concrete trail, he added. 

But the park's biggest draw might be the nature playground, which will incorporate the property's natural elements.

"There will be some manufactured elements in the play structure, but a lot of nature elements," said Weckerly. "Basically, it’s kids walking on big logs, jumping between stones, more natural elements and just working them into the landscape."

When invasive species were cleared from the property, another interesting element was found — an old stone wall that Richardson said will be incorporated into the park design. 

"That will be kind of fun because, from talking to some of the folks that have lived here a long time, it looks like that stone wall has been there for probably 50 or 60 years or longer. "

In addition to clearing out invasive species, the project also calls for leaving as many native trees as possible, Wecklery said. 

"Here, you’ve already got these huge trees providing shade and all the ecological benefits that that provides," he said. "I think it’s a little unique for Auburn because it will be truly a passive park, but also we’re approaching it from a design standpoint of almost doing as little grading as possible."

Construction bidding will open early next year, with work starting in April or May, said Weckerly, who added that Dinius Park could be open by October 2020. 

Dinius Park will be located on 13 acres donated by the Dinius Estate on Glenn Avenue across from the Prathers Lake subdivision. It is also being funded by donations from the Dinius Estate.

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