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Parks master plan identifies goals for Ballwin

Vlasis Park
Vlasis Park

The city of Ballwin operates a diverse and efficient parks and recreation program. But changing demographics and problems posed by limited facilities mean the city has short- and longer-term challenges to address if programs and operations are to meet the needs of residents and other users.

Those are two of many observations and conclusions in the draft of a parks and recreation master plan the Ballwin Board of Aldermen received at its Feb. 11 meeting.

Presenting highlights from the nearly 300-page plan was Kristy DeGuire, head of DG2 Design Landscape Architecture, the firm in charge of developing it.

In addition to its recommendations, the plan includes data profiling the community, an analysis of existing parks and facilities, and appendices detailing input from residents and other respondents who attended public meetings and participated in an online survey. 

An analysis of the market and a feasibility study of current and future programs and operations also are included.

The plan was identified as a draft and aldermen are expected to review and discuss its findings and recommendations in more detail in coming weeks. John Hoffman, interim director of parks and recreation, described the document as “basically final” but still subject to last-minute changes from the review process.

Referring to the plan document, Hoffman said, “It’s a good overall view of our system and what we need to do as we move forward. It’s not the end of our process, though, because there’s a lot of work ahead to make the plan’s recommendations a reality.”

The Pointe at Ballwin Commons
The Pointe at Ballwin Commons often is cited as one of the city’s best amenities.

Although its specifics are labeled as medium and low priority, one of the plan’s most involved recommendations calls for an expansion of The Pointe at Ballwin Commons, the city’s fitness, recreation and activity center. More lap lanes would be installed in an expansion of the indoor swimming area and gymnasium space would be added along with a new multipurpose room and more second-floor area for cardio and weight exercise equipment. Renovations to the babysitting, spinning and party rooms are medium priority recommendations.

No cost estimates are in the plan but the expansion clearly would be a multimillion-dollar project.

The plan credits Ballwin parks and recreation with a number of strengths, including:

  • Strong youth activities program.
  • Substantial aquatic programs.
  • Large number of senior Silver Sneakers participants.
  • Special interest classes offered in a number of areas.
  • Emphasis on family-based programming.
  • Special events programming.

Weaknesses and deficiencies identified included:

  • General lack of facilities, especially indoor, to support programming growth and hard-court activities.
  • Limited fitness and wellness programs and indoor sports, especially leagues, due to lack of gym space.
  • General lack of lap and competitive swimming.
  • Lack of programs focused on younger, more active seniors.
  • Lack of dedicated birthday party rooms.  

Specific improvement recommendations included for the city’s parks are:

North Pointe Aquatic Center: High – More shade structures over seating areas; Medium – Update park signage to a new, unified design.

Holloway Park: High – New small restroom for tennis court and playground users, restriping tennis courts to include pickleball, update the playground for multiple age groups; Medium – Add pedestrian path from Holloway Road to the playground, improve sidewalk along Holloway to trail standards, create a secondary trail system with neighborhood connections.

Ballwin Golf Course

Ballwin Golf Course and Club: High – Repave cart paths and slope for positive drainage, add a large driving practice cage west of the parking lot. Medium – Add buffer along pond edge to reduce fertilizer runoff, add native landscape and screening along golf course boundary, dredge pond to combat algae blooms, replace maintenance facility, use gabions to stabilize creek banks.

Vlasis Park: High – Enhance ballfield, add pickleball courts, complete a detailed park master plan; Medium – Add amphitheater for concerts and events, dredge ponds and improve edge treatment, update and relocate playground, add parking.

The Pointe Community Park: High – Enhance the pond edge; Medium – Add multi-use courts, add irrigation system.

New Ballwin Park: High – Create a native vegetation buffer to prevent bank erosion, with designated access points, replace plaza and playground trees, update restroom, realign walkway, reseal and restripe multi-use court for basketball and pickleball; Medium – Improve vehicle circulation and update parking lot with modern stormwater best management practices [BMPs], add a more permanent structure or area for concerts near the lake.

Ferris Park: High – Add permeable parking with modern stormwater BMPs, add access to playground from parking lot; Medium – Add multi-use courts [tennis, volleyball, pickleball] south of the restroom, improve pedestrian access and interior trails.

A survey on participation activities involving parks and recreation facilities found that walking/jogging was the most frequently mentioned, followed by swimming, festivals and special events, and visiting nature areas.

Listed as the top five potential improvements were walking trails, restrooms, shaded areas, upgrades of playground equipment and drinking fountains.

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