Gilbert Regional Park

Above is a photo of the new ampitherater in Gilbert Regional Park while below are renderings the town presented to the Parks and Recreation Board to show members the thinking on how new amenities at the park might look.

Proposed amenities for the remaining 200 acres of Gilbert Regional Park include a ball-field complex, a dog park, skate plaza, trails and plenty of open space.

The Parks and Recreation Board gave input last week to the preferred masterplan update, which now heads to an April 6 Council study session for feedback.

“This is definitely a destination facility we are looking at,” Chairman Bob Ferron said. “It’s exciting.”

Chad Atterbury, senior associate with architect Dig Studio, summarized the feedback received from two rounds of community meetings that were incorporated into the planning process.

 “We got tons and tons of responses, which is great,” Atterbury said. “There was good energy out there in terms of what people wanted to see in the park.”

From the over 130 responses to a survey and an additional 195 comments from the first virtual meeting in December, people asked for amenities such as natural park open space, a bike park, dog park and trails, according to Atterbury.

The plan’s amenities include baseball/softball fields, soccer/multi-use fields, 5 acres reserved for possible vendor use, a pump track for bike riders, disc golf, a challenge course and an area for backyards games and barbecue.

Atterbury said designers also adhered to the board’s direction to keep the park near Higley and Queen Creek roads a destination spot.

He said designing the park for flexible uses was key in the plan to accommodate many different types of events such as archery, fairs, training opportunities and yoga classes.

  “We want flexible spaces that can be used year-round,” Atterbury said.

 The ballfield complex featured 10 playing fields and a shaded event plaza, which would serve as concessions area, a place to hand out trophies and where teams can do their warm-up, he said.

Ferron asked if the 10 baseball and softball fields and the two flex-fields met the town’s Sports Fields Needs Assessment and perhaps it was too much for the south side of town.

Parks and Recreation Director Robert Carmon said the assessment indicated the need for eight more ball fields, two adult and three youth, for when the town reaches build-out.

Carmona said staff saw it as an opportunity to have more adult-playing fields as that was one of the highest requests the department receives.

Ferron also asked if the proposed fields would compete with Cactus Yards, which includes eight scaled-down replicas of famous ball fields.

Carmona said he didn’t see that happening and that the park’s fields would complement the sports facility.

 He also responded to Ferron’s question on park accessibility.

“Accessibility is always one of our main goals,” Carmona said. “Every area of the park is accessible.”

Atterbury said an action sports zone is proposed to align with the planned Ocotillo Bridge, connecting Ocotillo Road over the regional park.

The zone would be a dedicated space for skaters and bikers so they can feel safe, he added.

The plan also includes open spaces for backyard games – spaces to bring people together for fun programs, Atterbury said.

 Board member Paul Gonzales asked if the backyard games would be built in or something that families would need to bring to the park.

Games such as ping pong and cornhole have concrete versions and he expected the games to be permanent fixtures but people would need to bring things like paddles.

There are also opportunities for locating art such as murals in the park, according to Atterbury.

As for signs to direct people to all the amenities the 272-acre park will have to offer, Carmona said electrical conduits will be placed in so LED screens can be installed in the future phases.

The Town’s Capital Improvement Budget showed the estimated cost for Phase 2 at $52 million and for Phase 3, $97 million, which would be paid for with a future bond.

“The masterplan process also includes a new cost model, which will be developed after all comments are received in our outreach,” Carmona later said.

 “The timing of the bond and any future phase construction timelines have not been finalized,” he added. “The Town will have further discussions on the construction timelines and funding after the cost models have been completed.”  

To date, the first phase of the town’s largest park was completed last year on 30 acres.

It gradually opened in fall 2019 with Phase 1A, which included a 17-foot iconic playground, a splash pad with 57 different water features and a tot playground. 

Phase 1B, opened last October with features such as a fishing lake, an amphitheater, pickleball courts and an event lawn.

The town also set aside 40 acres for private-public partnerships. 

The town in 2019 inked a deal with a developer to build The Strand, a 25-acre water park.

Carmona told the board he anticipated bringing an update on that project in May or June.