Town Park To Receive $700,000 Facelift

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More than $700,000 in Rumsey Park improvements will render the facility one of the finest public recreational sites in Arizona.

The project includes a new children's playground, two all-weather playing fields, and resurfacing Rumsey III with artificial turf.

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Bill Schwind, Payson Parks and Recreation Department director

The children's playground will be built on an undeveloped one-acre site east of the tennis courts and west and north of the dog park.

The two new all-weather turf playing fields will be built at the west end of Rumsey, where only backstops now stand. The fields are called "Kiwanis fields" because the service club donated the money for the backstops.

Rumsey III -- a dirt field located at the north end of the park -- is commonly used for youth sports and senior softball.

"(Rumsey III) will become a beautiful venue, a showcase," Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind said. "It will be a premier field for both Little League (baseball) and girls softball.

"The field has been built to Williamsport (Little League) specifications."

The surfaces on the two new fields and Rumsey III could be the same FieldTurf brand that was used on both the North and South Rumsey Park multipurpose fields.

However, two other firms -- touting all-weather surfaces similar to FieldTurf -- have submitted samples to Schwind and could be in on the bidding process when it begins in November.

The engineering for the two Rumsey West fields has started and a widening of a nearby drainage ditch -- to avoid flooding -- will begin soon, Schwind said.

Once that is completed, town workers can begin preparing the fields for application of the all-weather surface.

"After the base prep is done, it will be ready to go," Schwind said. "Then it takes about 35 days to lay down the turf."

The turf will be laid on the outfields only -- the infields will remain dirt -- but all three facilities can be used for other sports including youth soccer and flag football.

When finished, the project will add 133,405 square feet of all-weather playing surface to Rumsey.

Schwind estimates that the addition of artificial turf, rather than growing grass, will save the town "millions of gallons of water a year."

The improvement project also includes adding state-of-the-art lighting to the two new diamonds.

"(The lighting) will be technically advanced to avoid spillage and light pollution," Schwind said.

Rumsey III already has lighting.

Schwind estimates the three fields could be ready for use by spring.

For the youngsters

The new Rumsey playground will feature three pods geared toward different age groups, from toddlers to intermediate ages.

Along with traditional playground equipment, like swings and slides, will be rock-crafted designs, such as artificial boulders and cliffs that can be used for free climbing.

"It (free climbing) promotes growth and development in children," Schwind said. "And the equipment is aesthetically pleasing."

Although the site must be partially cleared to make room for the equipment, most of the larger trees will remain to provide ample shade.

"We've carefully planned it," Schwind said.

The town council at a Sept. 25 meeting approved the funding and the financing for the improvement projects.

The exact funding, Schwind said, would be up to the town's chief fiscal officer, Glenn Smith, but he understood a $200,000 down payment would be made from the Park Development Fund and the remaining debt paid in installments by future park development fees.

"It's growth paying for growth," Schwind said.

Park Development Funds are generated from a $647 fee charged for each new private residence built within the town limits.

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