Oak Creek — The city's lakefront park now has taken a final shape, on paper, clearing the way for work to begin yet this fall.
Oak Creek has been working on its Lake Vista Park project, on the northeast corner of East Ryan Road and South Fifth Avenue, for quite some time, with small approvals of various elements popping up on agendas as things came together.
Now, with the plan complete, Oak Creek Planner Kari Papelbon said "earth work" will begin this fall with buildings expected to be constructed in spring 2017 through fall 2017. After another winter next year, Papelbon expected the park to be fully functioning in early 2018.
Visitors of all ages can partake in numerous activities and enjoy many amenities once the project is completed.
Recently, the plan commission recommended rezoning two properties – at 9180 S. Fifth Ave. and 4240 E. Ryan Road – to park district, and Papelbon subsequently presented the commission with the final project outline.
Many of the changes made over time were due to staff looking for "comparable materials" that would provide the desired aesthetic while providing some cost savings, she said.
The main upland pavilion has gone through some design changes. Originally, it offered a fire pit but due to safety and cost concerns, that feature was removed, Papelbon said.
"That doesn't mean it couldn't be added in at a later date," she said.
Next to the pavilion will be one of the park's key features: the upland playground, the largest playground in Oak Creek, according to Zoning Administrator Pete Wagner. The playground will include classic offerings such as swings and slides, but also will offer another form of travel: a zip line.
A small rock climbing section is also included among other features.
"This is definitely larger and unique compared to the other neighborhood parks in the city," Wagner said.
For those interested in a different kind of playground, a nature and adventure playground will also be onsite. It will feature three trails – mowed, concrete and mulch. These trails will weave through wooded areas and around small bodies of water. How the trails will be used in winter months is still a matter of discussion. Officials are still considering whether the paths will be cleared or if activities like snowshoeing will be encouraged instead.
Other offerings include sail shelters with earth forms, bird blinds, a beacon over 20 feet high, and an overlook section with a stone wall for safety. Similarly, a wood deck overlook will also be constructed.
Two bluff shelters will also be built and will be rentable, according to Papelbon. As of now, they are just called shelter one and shelter two as placeholders, but more interesting names may be created as the project progresses as suggested by the commission. However, that hasn't yet been discussed, according to Papelbon.
These shelters also originally had fireplaces as well but they too were removed.
An integrated trail system weaves its way throughout the park connecting all the various elements.
The city has been discussing creating a jewel-quality neighborhood park for many years. The idea began taking shape after commercial and industrial sites became available
Construction of the city's Lake Vista Drive along the lakefront began in 2015 with a plan to turn the former industrial, commercial space into a recreational area for the community. The city identified approximately 37 acres of public space and 900 feet of lakefront access with the newly acquired property.