ASHLAND -- The Ashland County Park District has big plans for 2020, including the construction of a shelter and public restrooms at Freer Field. 

The Ashland County Park District's board of commissioners recently approved plans to move forward with plans for construction of the multi-use building at the Ashland Balloon Fest venue near Park Street in the City of Ashland, according to ACPD director Stephanie Featheringill.

"This is something we've talked about during our strategic plan meetings, and this was an opportunity to make something central to Ashland," she said. "Plus, we heard from public that it's maybe the most popular park we have and there's a need for restrooms."

Part of the building will be an enclosed reservable facility while the other part will be an open-air pavilion. The public restroom will be located directly in between.

The enclosed facility is planned to have a capacity of 50 people and should be able to be rented for social gatherings, family gatherings, park district educational programs, community group meetings, and more. The potential amenities could include a kitchenette with a refrigerator, a microwave, a sink, counterspace, tables and chairs, HVAC, Wi-Fi and a projection system.

"It took a while to plan the design, but we have moved forward with an architect and the building will go out for bid," Featheringill said. 

The project is expected to be complete by late summer 2020. 

Additionally, the ACPD obtained funding from ODOT to at least double the size of its current parking lot. The existing 14 space parking lot on Park Street would be expanded to have 28 spaces.

The buildings and restroom would likely increase the use of the park and create a need for additional parking, Featheringill explained. 

She believes a second expansion may be needed in the future and could add another 28 spaces, for a total of 56. 

"The increased parking would provide a better staging area for the Balloon Fest and accommodate more visitors to the Freer Field," Featheringill said.

Other 2020 Projects 

The ACPD also has several other projects planned for its 18 parks, including the installation of three new pavilions across the park system.  

The pavilions will be 12-by-20-feet and resemble the one installed in 2018 at Byers Woods. Each will have three picnic tables underneath for first-come, first-serve usage. 

They will be located at the Audubon Wetlands Preserve near the new boardwalk, Sauers Farm near the existing family-friendly facilities and Black Fork Bottoms Hunting Area near the entrance. 

The pavilion at Cook Park will be updated with a concrete floor.

The pavilions will be constructed and updated this summer. 

Another recent decision was to add a new quarter mile trail at the Ashland Fire Company Nature Cabin. The trail will begin at the southwest corner of the cabin's parking lot and loop around to the northwest corner of the lot. 

The path will be open to the public when the cabin isn't reserved. 

This project should begin and end this summer. 

At Hurdle Park, a new parking lot will provide easier access to a fishing pond. This was already completed in January 2020.

Also, new swing set will be added as early as springtime at Crall Woods Natural Area. This will include two regular swings, one double bench swing and another handicap accessible swing.

"This was approved and decided on last year, pushed back after the weather turned early," Featheringill said. 

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