Plans for a new recreational park in south Savage are moving ahead as residential development in the area expands east.
Developer Pulte Homes will set aside 1.17 acres of parkland adjoining Hampshire Avenue while building 39 new lots under a proposal that got a unanimous recommendation for approval from the city Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Commission this week.
The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Dec. 5 before the plan heads to a City Council vote Dec. 16.
“It’s a great park for this neighborhood,” Greg Boatman, the city’s public works director, told park commissioners.
Since 2013, Pulte has developed 170 lots in the area and paid roughly $650,000 to the city in fees in lieu of setting aside parkland within the developments.
The proposed park is a quarter-mile south of Redtail Ridge Elementary School and near the Murphy Hanrehan Park Reserve border. Residents must cross 158th Street to access Redtail Ridge, and the park reserve has no walking trails beginning in that area.
Last year, city officials discussed the option of proactively purchasing land rather than requesting land from a developer but ultimately decided to let the development play out.
Purchasing land gives the city more options because it allows officials to change the use of the land depending on need, but dedicating land designates that the land will forever be used as a park.
Another developer plans to purchase private property on Hampshire Avenue and dedicate parkland, Boatman said, meaning the park proposed under Pulte’s plan could be combined with additional dedicated land in a few years to create a larger park.
Commissioner Carrie Wilder wondered if the proposed park will still be feasible if the second developer backs out.
Boatman said the popularity of Cates Lake Park shows a smaller park would still be successful, but he’s optimistic about the prospect of combining parkland a few years down the road.