Dover planning for Schutte Park’s future

Former Dover high track star Duane Henry helps coach children at a soccer camp held last week at Schutte Park in Dover. City officials met with the public Wednesday night to share Dover’s master plan for the facility and took ideas of things residents would like to see added at the park in the west side of the city. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Former Dover high track star Duane Henry helps coach children at a soccer camp held last week at Schutte Park in Dover. City officials met with the public Wednesday night to share Dover’s master plan for the facility and took ideas of things residents would like to see added at the park in the west side of the city. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER – Public pool, dog park, disc golf course, skate park, fishing hole, running/walking loop … yes, several members of the Dover community came loaded with ideas for the future of Schutte Park.

The recreation park on the west side of the city is on the verge of expanding and adding new amenities.

Ann Marie Townshend, Dover’s director of planning and community development, and new city planner Eddie Diaz were at Schutte Park on Wednesday evening, sharing the city’s master plan for the facility with the public.

They also welcomed suggestions from the community as to what kinds of things they would like to see offered at the park in the future.

“We had the recreation needs assessment in 2015, which proposed a few things,” Mr. Diaz said.

“Some of the feedback from that was a skate park would be a good idea for this area. People are also looking for exercise stations along the paths. There’s a proposal for disc golf in the park. There are several good ideas as to how we can improve Schutte Park.”

Morgan Zabala, 4, of Dover, retrieves the ball at a youth soccer camp at Schutte Park in Dover on Wednesday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Morgan Zabala, 4, of Dover, retrieves the ball at a youth soccer camp at Schutte Park in Dover on Wednesday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

The park currently offers four lighted softball fields, 10 multi-purpose fields that are primarily used for soccer and lacrosse, playground equipment, walking paths, a wooded trail, a cross country course and a pavilion. The John W. Pitts Recreation Center includes indoor basketball courts and community rooms.

Mr. Diaz displayed graphic boards on Wednesday that pinpointed the targeted area for improvement — a triangular swath that the city was deeded after part of the Nottingham Meadows development was cut off with the realignment of Wyoming Mill Road in 2004.

Ms. Townshend and Mr. Diaz said the 12 acres of land, which was incorporated into the park in 2013, looks like the perfect place to add two additional multi-purpose fields as well as another parking lot at the corner of Hazlettville and Wyoming Mill roads.

“We’ve been working on how we plan for Schutte Park, primarily focusing on how we lay out the added field space, but also how we improve what we have,” Ms. Townshend said.

“The idea is to plan for the additional field space and the parking that’s going to support it because the parking that we have now is fully utilized, but also other amenities that could help to improve the park.”

Ms. Townshend warned that issues with securing funding could delay some of the proposed improvements. The city had used Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund grants for past improvements, but those grants won’t be available this year.

Ms. Townshend said the priority right now is to get the two new fields graded and seeded in anticipation of next year.

“We have some funds budgeted for the current fiscal year to start some of the work,” she said. “We were hoping for some grant funds, but some of the grant funds that we were looking at aren’t available this year so we’ll be looking at other funding sources as well.

“We want to at least get to the point of grading the fields so that we can get the grass started. There could be a lag between that and coming in next year with the park [improvements].”

They would also like to complete the running/walking loop around the complex because it is the park’s most popular attraction. The completion would make the trail eight-tenths of a mile long.

“We get a lot of use on the multi-purpose trail so we want to take that and make it a full loop. So if your kids have an activity at the park, you can go for a run or walk,” Ms. Townshend said. “We also show the possibility of a location for a skate pad. That’s been one of the things that’s been discussed over the years and this is a location that could work for that.”

Dover residents provided their own ideas for Schutte Park’s future with the city officials and Parks and Recreation Department staff.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What kinds of things would you like to see for Dover’s Schutte Park? Is the city on the right track for the future? Give us your ideas in the form of a letter to the editor or online comment by going to the Delaware State News Facebook page, commenting on the story at DelawareStateNews.net or mailing your response to 110 Galaxy Drive, Dover, DE 19901.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What kinds of things would you like to see for Dover’s Schutte Park? Is the city on the right track for the future? Give us your ideas in the form of a letter to the editor or online comment by going to the Delaware State News Facebook page, commenting on the story at DelawareStateNews.net or mailing your response to 110 Galaxy Drive, Dover, DE 19901.

“At some point I’d like to see Dover consider some type of public swimming facility, whether it’s just a summer outdoor pool for kids or – pipe dream – a big indoor swimming pool,” said Dover’s Michele Churchman. “As far as I know there’s no public swimming in the city. All of the swim clubs and the YMCA all have a cost to them.”

Joanna Miller, a Dover resident, said she was pleased the city took the time to get ideas from the community about improving the park.

“I just think it’s great that they’re expanding it,” she said. “I think the walking trails are great for people to exercise and bring their pets out. I thought the presentation was great. I think the draw-ups were impressive and very informative.”

Ms. Townshend said the future of Schutte Park — and recreation in general — is important to the city.

“This is a park that gets a lot of use,” she said. “There was a lot of concern about the amount of field space several months ago when we started our soccer leagues. Again, this expands our field space and allows more people to utilize the park.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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