The City of Prescott has hired engineering firm Kimley Horne and Associates to provide the design and construction documents for a new Granite Dells Gateway Park.
The park will be built on the east side of Old U.S. Highway 89A, which loops off from state Route 89 between the Granite Gardens Trails on the south and the Phippen Museum and Constellation trails to the north.
The 20-acre site will serve as a western gateway not only to the City’s 1,600 acres of open space within the rugged landscape of the Dells but also the more than 3,000 acres of state land it is working with the Town of Prescott Valley and Yavapai County to purchase for a regional park, including Glassford Hill.
It also will serve as a hub for the Mile-High Trail System.
“When we say gateway, it’s not just potentially the west gate for the Glassford Dells park, it’s also a jumping-off point where you go here, and then you can go north, south, east or west,” Prescott Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes said at the Feb. 28 City Council meeting where the contract was approved.
The initial vision for the park calls for features including a 3-acre fishing lake, natural play areas focusing on activities like boulder-hopping and log climbing, and trails that can be used by all ages and abilities, along with connections to the Peavine, Constellation and Granite Gardens trails and to the Point of Rocks.
Most of the site will be ADA accessible, though it’ll likely provide access to some highly technical trails through the Dells.
Councilman Erik Moore said he supported the project but had some concerns about traffic along Route 89. Baynes said the city is planning a new roundabout at the intersection with Old Highway 89A to help calm traffic coming through the stretch.
Baynes also said a 100-year-old cement bridge on the property over Granite Creek likely can be brought back into service for the new park.
Mayor Phil Goode asked whether the park’s construction could run into new regulations that could force cost overruns, citing reports of the Interstate 17 expansion project being $76 million over budget, mainly due to a new federal definition affecting disposal of fill material from the construction.
Baynes said officials will have a better idea once the park reaches the 30% design phase, which is expected in May. Kimley Horne, the engineering firm, said it would incorporate public input into its process, with a public meeting tentatively set for April 30 and a second sometime in November.
The $360,000 contract with Kimley Horne runs for 16 months. Final designs are anticipated to be submitted by the end of December. The City has budgeted another $4 million in its Capital Improvement Plan to be spent on the park as early as next fiscal year, though it will compete with other priorities while inflation and more concerns effectively shrink the budget.