People might soon be able to play tennis at Bjoin Park again.
A draft 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 court, relocated playground, a native plant prairie and new accessible trails.
The park, which is rumored to have been a camp for homeless people during the Great Depression, was previously home to a half-basketball and tennis court, but the city parks department removed them in 2019 after the facilities fell into disrepair.
The draft master plan is expected to be discussed at an upcoming Common Council meeting, where it can be approved, denied or be sent back for more changes.
According to a 2018 Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, Bjoin Park is the third most used park in the city, with neighbors frequently using it for walks, nature viewing and the playground.
The park’s proximity to a wetland, however, creates flooding that makes the baseball diamond unusable and park maintenance is unable to mow, 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 draft 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. The sports court and lighting could be installed as early as the fall, Dan Glynn parks and recreation director wrote to the Hub in an email.
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, finishing the accessible pathway and installing a drinking fountain that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
With in the final phase, a shared-use path and railroad crossing would be installed, with the aim to make a safe and user friendly connection to the Yahara River Trails, according to the draft plan. The installment, however, would require future discussions with the railroad company.
In a survey sent to neighbors of the park in September 2019, most of the 67 neighborhood respondents said they use the park for nature watching (70%) and the playground (62%).