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Site photos of Bjoin Park.

Users of Bjoin Park expressed a desire for an accessible connection to Yahara River Trail – and they’ll get one under the park’s new master plan.

Construction could even start as early as this year.

The master plan to update Bjoin Park, which is located on seven acres of land east of Page Street and near the Yahara River Trail, includes a new half basketball/tennis courts, relocated playground, a native plant prairie and American With Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible connection to the Yahara River Trail.

The sports court and new solar lighting could be installed as early as the fall, Dan Glynn parks and recreation director wrote to the Hub in an email.

The Common Council approved the master plan 10-1 at the Tuesday, Sept. 8, meeting.

Ald. Sid Boersma (Dist.1) voted against the master plan, stating he believes crossing over the railroad to connect to the Yahara River Trail would be unsafe, and the cost to create the official trail is excessive. City parks and recreation director Dan Glynn estimated the cost to be $65,000.

A shared-use path and railroad crossing would replace the unofficial trail that is there now — the installment would require future discussions with the railroad company, the master plan states.

Bjoin Park is the third most used park in the city, with neighbors frequently using it for walks, nature viewing and the playground, according to a 2018 Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. The park was previously home to a half-basketball and tennis courts, but the city parks department removed them in 2019 after the facilities fell into disrepair.

The park’s proximity to a wetland, however, creates flooding that makes the baseball diamond unusable and mowing the grass difficult, according to the documents. In order to help with the wetness, the native plantings would be in the northern part of the park.

“This will improve park aesthetics, reduce the amount of mowing, and provide for better habitat for insects,” the document states.

The Parks and Recreation Department sought feedback from the public and neighbors of the park through a neighborhood survey in September 2019 (four block radius) and two meetings in November.

More than 160 people submitted responses on the survey — 66 of them were considered neighbors to the park. The 66 neighborhood respondents said they use the park for nature watching (70%) and the playground (62%) with only three respondents stating they did not use Bjoin Park.

Glynn said in the neighborhood meetings demonstrated how many dog owners value the park, and that it is frequently used as a connector to the Yahara River Trail.

The plan shows the project completed in three phases.

The multi-use sport court, an accessible pathway to the courts, restrooms and playground and two solar lighting poles would be in the first phase, with an estimated cost of $30,000, according to the master plan documents.

City staff are also considering installing an accessible drinking fountain during the first phase.

The second phase would convert the baseball diamond to an open space with a backstop and the native plant prairie. The last phase would include moving the playground and finishing the accessible pathway.

Contact Mackenzie Krumme at mackenzie.krumme@wcinet.com.