‘Take care of what we have’ in Yukon parks, rec centers

Yukon City Council asked to prioritize facility upgrades

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Ward 4 City Council Member Aric Gilliland

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

The poor condition of the City of Yukon’s tennis courts is a prime example of needs in the city’s park and recreation system.

Joe Edwards, the longest-serving member of the Yukon Park Board, recently told city council members about a previous proposal to upgrade six tennis courts at two city parks for $59,000.

But no action had been taken to make any improvements.

“I’ve been on the park board more than 20 years,” Edwards told council members at their May 18th study session. “We don’t do a good job taking care of what we have.”

People “love getting out” to enjoy the parks and recreation spaces offered in Yukon, the park board chairman said.

Edwards, who presented an annual Yukon Park Board report to the council, said the tennis court situation is an example of some of the city’s “run-down” recreation facilities.

The tennis courts – at Yukon City Park and Kimbell Park – allow the public to be outside and play while staying socially distanced, Ward 4 Council Member Aric Gilliland said.

And the courts can be striped for pickleball, a sport growing in popularity.

Yukon’s tennis courts “need a good, safe surface to play on,” Gilliland added.

“Let’s take care of what we have.”

Another case in point is the Yukon Community Center, 2200 S Holly, which opened 1973. Despite some remodeling work in recent years, Edwards pointed out the aging facility is small and has “served its time.”

Some city officials have proposed building a brand-new recreation center.

For the second straight summer, the Kimbell Bay Pool at Kimbell Park will be closed because of safety issues that require an estimated $50,000 upgrade.

Edwards shared some “wish list” items and “ideas for the future” in Yukon’s park and recreation system.

He referred to needs for both a new sports complex and community center, allowing YPR to provide more programs and activities to the public.

But first things first.

“We need to focus more on taking care of what we have,” Edwards advised council members.

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THE YEAR THAT WAS

As part of his annual park board report, Edwards gave an overview of the past year for Yukon Parks & Recreation.

During the COVID-19 shutdown in spring and summer 2020, several YPR staff members were laid off, facilities were temporarily closed, and special events had to be canceled or postponed.

The Taste of Yukon, Sounds of the Season Christmas concert and Spooky Senior Social were among activities that did not occur at all. The Yukon Senior Games, Chisholm Trail Festival and several other programs were delayed.

City Splash Pool opened in July and several summer camps were scaled back in 2020.

But Yukon was able to have several major annual events like Freedom Fest, Concerts in the Park, Spooksville, and Christmas in the Park (which saw record crowds).

Meanwhile, the Yukon Park Board chairman talked about some completed capital projects. Among them, new lighting at the Yukon City Park ballfields, a new parking lot at the Spirit League field and additions to the BMX Raceway at Taylor Park.

The City of Yukon has obtained a federal grant to make improvements and install a new splashpad water feature at Freedom Trail Playground, 2100 S Holly.

Construction on this project is expected to begin during the 2021-22 fiscal year, according to Yukon City Manager Tammy Kretchmar.

Yukon has one splashpad, at Sunrise Park, that has been converted to non-recycling.

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