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Maschka: Wildwood is seldom used

By Karen Colbenson

kcolbenson@postbulletin.com

Wildwood Park may soon be off the list of the 31 park areas maintained by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, according to department Director Dennis Maschka.

That was one thing Austin City Council members learned Tuesday during a bus tour.

"I don’t think people realize how much land we have," said Maschka during the department’s monthly board meeting, held before the tour.

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Wildwood, which the department has maintained for years, is home to a baseball field that the department will soon be taking down.

"No one uses it," said Maschka, explaining that the department will maintain parts of the park but will let the west end go.

Members of both boards toured several areas, including the Youth Activity Center, Riverland Community College’s ball diamonds, Todd Park, Rotary Park and Sherman Park.

Many council members said the biggest surprise was learning the extent of the Riverland baseball complex.

"I’ve been out to the college before, but haven’t really had a chance to view the complex," said Mayor Tom Stiehm. "I wanted to go on the tour to get updated."

The fields were paid for by the city and schools and are used by many groups, including the Youth Baseball Association, which donates time and money for maintenance, said Maschka.

At Todd Park, board members got a look at the 27 disc-golf holes, which Maschka said is one of the state’s top five disc-golf courses.

Construction plans for Todd Park involve fixing a bridge, unusable since October, that serves as an exit. Maschka said the department has been working with the county to build a new bridge.

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"It gets to be a real congestion problem," said Maschka.

Rotary Park, which Maschka said is one of the department’s most recent acquisitions, will get solar panels to run the lights, which Maschka said will be expensive to put in, but will cost literally nothing to run once they are installed. The park offers basketball courts and horseshoe pits, which Maschka said are used often by children and several adult horseshoe teams.

The tour stopped at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, where Director Larry Dolphin gave an overview, including the nine miles of trails and the youth curriculum developed with Austin Public Schools.

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