City eyes English Park makeover

Owensboro parks officials will hold a meeting next week, to gather public ideas for the future of English Park.

City Parks Director Amanda Rogers said officials have discussed ways to improve the park, and the issue was also discussed in the department’s recently completed master plan.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, at the Parks and Recreation Department offices, 1530 McJohnson Ave.

“We have a few locations we really are in high need of repurposing, including English Park, Rogers said Friday.

A goal is to find ways to increase community use of the park, Rogers said.

“Right now, it’s primary purpose is access to the waterfront” with a boat ramp and boarding dock, Rogers said. The park also has a playground, a park shelter and amphitheater seating, although the amphitheater is in “poor condition,” Rogers said.

Restrooms at the park are kept locked and can only be used by people renting the park shelter.

“It has lots of potential,” Rogers said, and that the purpose of the work is to find how the park can “serve the community and drive community use,” Rogers said.

People who are homeless have camped at English Park.

When asked, Rogers said that would affect public usage of the park, “but I also think when there’s not enough variety for public use, or the kind of (amenities) you are looking for, that is going to affect it as well.”

A consultant from the firm Lose Design will lead Monday’s discussion.

Rogers said officials will take comments from the public and their own ideas and create two plans for the park. The boat ramp would remain while other areas of the 13-acre park would be improved, Rogers said.

After the two concepts are studied and a final plan is crafted, the plan will go before city commissioners for inclusion in a future budget, Rogers said.

Although commissioners will vote on a budget for fiscal year 2024-25 in June, a plan to redevelop English Park will have to be funded in a later budget if commissioners decide to go forward, Rogers said.

“We’re looking at a three to four month process” to create a design, Rogers said.

Department officials anticipate some parks improvement in fiscal year 2024-25, which begins in July. Plans in the draft budget commissioners will begin considering next week include adding amenities to Thompson-Berry Park and replacing weathered basketball courts at some parks, including Chautauqua Park.

Another plan includes determining if there are better uses for the tennis courts at Dugan Best Recreation Center.

Rogers said a public meeting will be held at the center in the future to gather public ideas, and that plans to make improvements at Dugan Best are in the proposed 2024-25 parks budget.