Printed on: Fri, Jan 27, 2006
New Allan Witt plan retains more park land
By Ian Thompson
FAIRFIELD - Fewer houses and more park land are the cornerstones of the latest version of Fairfield's proposal to redevelop land in and around Allan Witt Park.
Fairfield officials contend the new plan addresses public concerns about seeing large portions of the park plowed under to make way for homes and still meets the city's goals to redevelop the site as part of its campaign to improve the West Texas Street area.
Fairfield planners and Seattle-based developer Triad cut the number of proposed homes from 434 to 398, according to Fairfield Planning and Development Director Sean Quinn.
More of the development is centered on land that is now the Caltrans maintenance yard, the abandoned Ray Venning Water Treatment Plant and where the park's baseball fields are.
"It has been opened up a bit more," said Quinn of the new plan's expanded amount of green space.
This is a considerable drop from the 562 houses, cluster homes and townhouses initially planned to be built on 32 acres. The new plan has the homes being built on 25 acres.
Housing previously proposed for the park's northeast corner near West Texas Street was removed and housing is planned where the skatepark is located.
Under the new plan, the skatepark will be moved to a site east of the Allan Witt Sports Center gymnasium. The new site will be just as big and will have better lighting.
Instead of being moved to the park's southwest corner, the proposed revamped aquatics center will be built on top of the present one near the entrance from West Texas Street. The park will also retain two outdoor basketball courts and four tennis courts.
Brad Smith of Friends of Allan Witt Park had yet to see the new proposal himself, but called the changes in housing an encouraging move in the right direction.
Both Triad and Centex Homes, with whom the city is still in exclusive negotiations, have given their blessings to the new plan, according to City Manager Kevin O'Rourke.
Fairfield approached Triad almost two years ago about developing land in and around Allan Witt Park as part of the city's campaign to clean up the park and revitalize the West Texas Street area.
Both this plan and the previous one will be examined by an environmental impact report, which is expected to be released to the public in April.
Triad will be submitting its development proposal based on the new plan, O'Rourke said. A final version is expected to go to the planning commission and then the city council by early fall, according to O'Rourke.
The city backed off on one of its promises not to destroy any sports facilities at Allan Witt Park before their replacements are ready.
Fairfield Community Services is in talks with the Fairfield-Suisun school district about providing interim facilities with the city agreeing to upgrade the school fields in return for their use.
Fairfield has already approved spending up to $1.1 million for consultants for both the Allan Witt project and the proposed Field of Dreams sports complex on Cordelia Road.
Big League Dreams, which manages sports complexes in Redding, Chino Hills and Cathedral City, will run and maintain half of the Cordelia Road complex.
That half will be a multi-sports complex -Êfour softball fields designed to resemble historic ballparks such as Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, built around a restaurant/concession area.
The other half, which will have two Little League fields, a regulation baseball field and a football/soccer field, will be run and maintained by the city.
Staff say it's likely anyone will be able to use the Field of Dreams ballfields for free before 5 p.m. but will have to pay $2 admission per adult and $1 for youth after 5 p.m.
Community Services Director John DeLorenzo said the city will save money by having Big League Dreams maintain half the sports complex while the city gets a share of the revenue from the events played on Big Leagues' fields.
Smith preferred to see the city leave the baseball fields in the park intact and only build the Big League Dreams portion of the Cordelia Road sports complex.
"That will serve the softball community and we can do whatever improvements we can afford to do at the facilities at Allan Witt," Smith said. "Once the Big League Dreams starts generating revenues, then we can build facilities in addition to Allan Witt."
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at email@example.com.
Friday, January 27, 2006
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