Progress is being made on the first projects to come out of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan.
The first phase includes about $15 million in projects that will be spread throughout the city. The larger projects include construction of a passive park on Glenn Avenue, phase one of the Saugahatchee Greenway/Blueway and a Lake Wilmore Community Center.
The passive park, which will be called Dinius Park, is currently being designed by Foresite Group LLC.
The community will have the opportunity to view the design on July 31 during a public meeting. The meeting will be hosted at the Harris Center and will take place from 4 to 6 p.m.
"On all the projects, we'll have a meeting once we get the designs to a point where people can look at them," said Auburn Parks and Recreation Director Becky Richardson. The Dinius Park meeting is the only one scheduled so far.
Dinius Park will be funded solely on donations, courtesy of the Dinius Estate, which also donated the roughly 13 acres of land on which the park will sit. The land is located on Glenn Avenue, behind the shopping center on the corner of Glenn and University Drive.
Richardson said that some time ago, she sat down with the Diniuses to talk about their decision to donate their land, and she is excited to see the project through.
"I started off meeting with the couple and talking to them about giving the property to the city, and to see the culmination of what their dreams for it were, it's kind of a fun thing," she said. "Plus, I think people will really like it."
The park will feature walking trails, a nature playground and a dog park. Construction will also include a pavilion, public parking and public restrooms.
The idea is to keep as much of the plant life on the property as possible.
"We are minimizing clearing; we are leaving as many trees as possible ... We're looking at getting rid of the invasive (plants) and leaving as many trees and leaving it shady," Richardson said.
The playground will be incorporated into the natural habitat and will encourage "creative play."
"(A nature playground) uses a lot of natural things, like wood and rocks and berms and things like that," Richardson said. "We'll probably buy a few other components that go with it. It promotes creative play."
The city will receive bids for the project in the fall with the hope that construction would also begin in the fall and be completed next spring.
Also in the design phase is the Saugahatchee Greenway/Blueway project, which will bring new trails and the opportunity to kayak along the Saugahatchee Creek in north Auburn. The project was originally being designed in-house, but the city hired Barge Design Solutions in January to finish the plans.
This project will also be bid in the fall, likely October, with the hope that it would be complete in the fall of 2020, Richardson said.
The first phase of the greenway/blueway project will include a small park next to the creek off Donahue Drive, canoe and kayak drops and 0.9 miles of trail. A canoe drop and take-out spot will also be constructed on property off Richland Road.
The city is in talks with a company that could potentially offer kayak and canoe rentals on site.
Planning is just kicking off for the Lake Wilmore Community Center, which is estimated to be the most expensive project in the first phase with a price tag of about $9 million.
The community center will feature two gymnasiums, a small outdoor pool and multi-purpose rooms that can be used for programming.
Design work is not expected to be completed until some time next year, Richardson said.
"We're hoping to have an indoor walking track and then have some multi-purpose rooms that can be used for programs or camps, but could also be used for senior programs," Richardson said. "There are a lot of needs we're trying to address."
The city is also just getting started on some of the other projects to come out of the master plan's first phase.
Work on bringing an inclusive playground to Town Creek Park has just begun, as has work to create a trail at Sam Harris Park. Some smaller projects, like replacing field lights and adding shade covers to the bleachers at Duck Samford Stadium have been completed.
The first phase of the master plan also includes the construction of an outdoor classroom and amphitheater on the Auburn Public Library's lawn, north of the existing parking lot. The project will be completed by the beginning of September, The Villager reported in April.
The amphitheater will have a 140-seat capacity on tiered brick seat walls similar to those found on Auburn University's campus. It will be ADA-compliant and feature handicap-accessible seating.
The amphitheater will be surrounded by embedded boulders that could provide additional seating, as well as a number of tree varieties and will incorporate green elements like a pollinator garden and storm-water garden, which will manage runoff from the parking lot. The pollinator garden will be surrounded by a permeable brick paver walkway, with a color that will mirror that of the main library building.