Back to the future at Deer Park: Backyard experience the strategy

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 12/14/17

Cleveland City Council members have been updated on improvement plans for the city's popular Deer Park, and Councilman Bill Estes  discovered how the park received its name.At a council session …

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Back to the future at Deer Park: Backyard experience the strategy

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Cleveland City Council members have been updated on improvement plans for the city's popular Deer Park, and Councilman Bill Estes  discovered how the park received its name.

At a council session earlier this week, Estes was told by his colleagues (with emphasis from District 3 Councilman David May Jr.) that when the park was constructed, deer were plentiful in the neighborhood; thus, thus the name for the park.

May grew up in a home next to the park.

City Manager Joe Fivas went over renovation plans for the facility, which he said is considered a community park, rather than a neighborhood park, due to the involvement of the surrounding residents.

"Over the next several months, we will embark on re-imaging our parks and recreation services, our sports tourism efforts, and our facilities," said Fivas.

There are also plans for a Community Volunteer Day when the renovation begins.

He added that many communities have very successful programs connected to sports tourism, with economic plans and investments that bring sports tournaments and sales tax dollars to the community.

City staff will present a Sports Tourism and Parks Comprehensive Plan to the Council in January, and community meetings are scheduled in February to gather feedback. 

"Our efforts have already started with the opening of the new Blythe Oldfield Park, and now we are focusing on Deer Park," Fivas said.  "We also have our eyes on improvements at the Blythe-Bower Park."

With Deer Park, Favis announced the recreation facility is getting a new theme — "Deer Park, A Back Yard Experience."

"We want to give the  community's residents and their children a perception of roaming freely, as we did when we were growing up as children," Fivas said. "We want to bring nature to the kids, and provide them with a true backyard experience."

He said this is what many at Monday's Council meeting experienced as they were growing up, in Cleveland and elsewhere.

It is anticipated Deer Park improvements will be completed in the spring, from March to April. The aesthetics of the park will include rocks, trees, a three-story treehouse, replicas of animals, a 75- to 100-foot zip line, and rearrangement of the stream running through the park.

One of the biggest upgrades is the removal of the old tennis court, and the construction of four pickleball courts.

At a series of community meetings, and Parks and Recreation meetings,  several residents expressed interest in this rapid-growing recreation activity, and Deer Park was suggested as a logical location.

Councilman Bill Estes expressed his opinion that four pickleball courts were too many, saying he would favor two courts and retention of more green space in the park.

The proposed pickleball playing surfaces will infringe about 18 feet into the grassy area along the old tennis court.

Fencing, and playground equipment such as slides and swings, are also destined for upgrades in the renovation plan.

The city manager pointed out that Deer Park is heavily used. Fivas said there are many weekly trips to the parks from community elementary schools and nonprofit groups, and the pavilion is rented out about 150 times a year. The pavilion was donated to the city by the Bank of Cleveland.

He said a key element of the planned renovation is the park's "natural feel."

Among staff's recommendations for park upgrades are repair of some pieces of equipment, replacement of other equipment, a more ADA-friendly playground environment, light rehabilitation of the pavilion area, outdoor workout equipment, the pickleball courts and an enhanced connection to the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway a couple of blocks away.

New fencing is planned, as well as improvements to the parking lot, and enhancement of the stream. The city has already completed street work adjacent to the park, with an additional entrance on the Southeast corner.

Fivas' presentation was accompanied by a number of video slides of proposed playground equipment with an outdoor environment theme.



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