Alabaster expands its portfolio of public parks to serve residents.
By Barry Wise Smith
Photos by Brit Huckabay
In 2019, Alabaster city leaders undertook a parks needs assessment to survey residents about what they felt was lacking in the city’s park portfolio. When the survey wrapped up in spring 2020, residents had spoken and overwhelmingly expressed their desire for more walking trails and paths, passive recreation spaces, and more park facilities on the north side of the city. “We got a lot of feedback, which helped us define areas of need and opportunity,” says Alabaster City Administrator Brian Binzer. When Mayor Scott Brakefield was elected in August 2020, he made expanding parks a priority for his administration.
The expansion project of Veterans Park, which started in Fall 2020, is nearly complete. The now nearly 100-acre park has had new facilities added to the existing ones, making it Alabaster’s largest public park.
As part of the project, the main entrance to the park was moved to the south end of the property with one lane in and two lanes out for improved traffic flow. Two turf soccer fields and one natural turf multipurpose field have been added to the existing five baseball and softball fields. Also, ¾ mile was added to the existing walking track for a total of about three miles of lighted and paved surface that is handicap accessible. Benches are located along the trail.
Two hundred parking spots were added to the existing parking lot. Future plans include adding additional bathroom facilities and adding a second entrance/exit to the WynLake neighborhood. The new facilities were added to Veterans Park’s existing nine pavilions available for rent, two playgrounds, a disc golf course, batting cages, a bluebird trail, three ponds with fish feeders including one with a lighted fountain, several passive play meadows, an educational nature walk area, a Veterans Memorial, and a self-contained regulation skate park.
Tim Hamm, Alabaster’s Director of Parks & Recreation since 2011, is excited to see the project completed, adding that the addition of the three fields will be beneficial to the city. “We wanted to draw in tournament play for soccer and lacrosse,” Hamm says.
In an effort to address the needs expressed in the survey, another park project has been budgeted for the 2021-2022 with the plan to add Patriots Park on the north side of Alabaster in Ward 2. Ward 2 Councilman Rick Ellis welcomes the addition and looks forward to what it means for residents in his ward, “I’m really excited about Patriots Park! With the addition of a walking trail, a nice playground, pavilions, and other family oriented activities, the park should really add to the quality of life for the residents in the north part of the city.”
The $2.5 million project is currently in the engineering design phase with InSite Engineering. In 2020, the city purchased the property formerly used for the Kingwood School athletic facilities and put it into service immediately. The almost eight-acre space already had sports fields (that have been used by a local club lacrosse program) and a 5,000-square-foot field house. The Alabaster Fire Department is currently using a portion of the field house as a work out facility for firefighting staff with the rest of the space used for storage.
“We don’t have a passive recreation space in that area of town,” Binzer says. “It will be a great addition for residents in that area.” The new park, which will border several neighborhoods, will have a walking path built in the center. An additional 100 parking spaces will be added to the lot on the Industrial Road side, and some spaces will be added on the neighborhood side.
Plans also include a new playground and four pavilions, which will be available for rent by residents. One pavilion will have a retractable
screen and AV equipment for special events or movies in the park. There will be a basketball court and three pickleball courts. Existing fields will be used as green spaces, new restrooms will be added, and lighting will be updated throughout. The entrance on Industrial Road will be realigned to improve ingress and egress for park visitors.
For information on Parks and Recreation sports registrations, facility rentals, and events, visit cityofalabaster.com/165/Parks-Recreation.