Improvements Expected at Karen Hornaday Park

Ariel Van Cleave

     Another batch of improvements is in the works at Homer’s Karen Hornaday Park. A $75,000 Department of Natural Resources matching grant will allow for better access and use of the park’s facilities.

     The new round of changes will focus mainly on the park’s campground area, its ball fields and problems with drainage. It’s all part of the Karen Hornaday Park Master Plan that was created and approved about five years ago. The new playground equipment that was put together in 2012 was also part of the master plan. 

     Access is a pretty big component of this next step. The money will be used for establishing a trail on the north side of the ball fields from the parking lot. The plan is to create an ADA accessible path that is wide enough for construction equipment to make its way through for things like routine maintenance. But it also means easier access for people who use the park for events like the Highland Games. 

     There are also plans to extend the access road from the parking lot to the rear ball field. According to the Parks and Recreation Commission documents, the current situation just isn’t working. There’s a path that’s been well-worn over the years and after mixing with a bit of moisture, it gets way too muddy. This improvement will make it easier for equipment or folks attending games to get through. 

     Another big piece of the plan is to move the current picnic pavilion to the spot between the two ball fields. This would provide another option if the front shelter is too full or if a family would prefer to set up closer to the fields. A new pavilion will be built in the front this summer. These changes will also help with ADA accessibility issues. 

     Pooling water has been plaguing the fields as well. During break up, which also happens to be the time when ball teams start playing, the fields are often like a giant mud pit. According to the documents, the project would involve clearing the north side of the fields of any bushes, deepening the ditch and installing a storm drain manhole to allow for more draining and more grass to grow.

     The campground area also will receive a bit of a spruce. According to the documents, the camp was established in the 1960s and hasn’t gotten much attention since then. The plan is to even out the currently lumpy and muddy tent areas and parking pads. 

     And the parks and rec commission wants to see a Camp Host Site put up, too.  That would mean electricity, a picnic table and possibly a fire ring to make the area more inviting to long-term campers. The city hopes that having a friendly face greeting visitors and helping them navigate town is a good option. Plus, that person could serve as security as well.  

     The original timeline for the projects had all construction finished up in August of this year. But that could fluctuate depending on when the bidding process is complete.