Commentary: Camp Verde names new parks

Michael Marshall

Michael Marshall

Camp Verde Parks & Recreation recently received approval from the Town Council for the naming or renaming of two new parks.

Formerly called Community Park, the planned new Park off of Route 260 has been renamed the Camp Verde Sports Complex. This new park is under design with plans to begin site work early next year with the hope to begin playing on the first phase of fields in the spring of 2019. The Council reviewed many suggestions for a new name and selected a user friendly and descriptive name for the Park. As construction moves forward there is opportunity to name individual fields after donors or to recognize individuals or groups.

The new park will be centered around athletic fields with plenty of other recreation opportunities. The master plan calls for six baseball diamonds and a large grass area which can be striped in different configurations for soccer and football fields. In addition numerous picnic ramadas, two large playscapes, tennis and pickle ball courts are planned. The complex will be built in phases depending on funding approved by the Council. In addition, grant funding and local donations will be solicited for construction of the fields. The first phase will consist of the important but unglamorous site work to properly grade the area and install the infrastructure such as water, electric and irrigation supply lines. Also roads, parking lots and service areas will be graded and prepared for final completion.

Our current single baseball diamond and single soccer /football field at Butler Park see extensive use year round and we are looking forward to additional fields. With at least 6 different leagues or groups and nearly 900 athletes, mostly children, the fields see a lot of use, often until 10:00 at night! The football/soccer field is scheduled 4 – 5 nights a week plus every Saturday from August through May, often by two or more sports. Little League and Camp Verde Middle School baseball use the diamond 4- 5 days per week from mid-February through mid-June. Adult softball then takes over twice a week until August. In addition Special Olympics uses the baseball field weekly from July through October. On top of that are numerous tournaments, special games and clinics by the various user groups. Additionally the fields are frequently used for pick-up games, family outings, birthday parties and the like.

The opening of the Camp Verde Sports Complex will allow us more flexibility and capacity in scheduling field use, including affording earlier nights for kids during the school year. The fields as they are built out will also allow us better recovery during rain events and increase the opportunity for tournaments to bring people to Town.

Plans are complete for the multi-use trail around the Park to be built with a grant awarded this past spring. The $78,248 Recreational Trails Program grant awarded by Arizona State Parks will be combined with Town funds to construct the 1.6 mile non-motorized trail around the perimeter of the Sports Complex as part of the circulation plan.

Additionally, 30 acres of unnamed Town property along the river upstream of the I-17 bridge was named to honor John Parsons, a man responsible for much of the rebirth and appreciation for the Verde River. The newly named Parson’s Riverfront Preserve will help to protect 30 acres of meander land by bringing it under better management to allow public access while protecting it from some of the current trash dumping and unrestricted OHV use in the river corridor.

Beginning in the early 80s John worked tirelessly to introduce people to the beauty of the Verde River over a twenty year period. He took anyone willing on trips down the river, lobbied for funding from the State and got himself appointed to the Arizona Outdoor Recreation Coordinating Commission. Additionally he worked to relocate the in-river gravel mining operations then common along the river. One of those companies eventually donated a large parcel of riverfront land as part of the Verde River Greenway Project and thanked John for his influence. John continues his activities in the Verde Valley, most recently by single handedly creating a thriving Pickle Ball program for Camp Verde Parks and Recreation, all with volunteers!

Most of Parson’s Preserve is prone to flooding and not suitable for high development and intensive use. Fortunately these same characteristics make it perfect for wildlife watching and quiet recreation such as bird watching and nature walks.

Residents looking for more information about plans for the parks are encouraged to contact the Parks & Recreation office at (928)554-0828 or stop at 395 S. Main Street for details.

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