Under construction: New walkways, fitness equipment, and more for Island and Nelson parks

Construction is underway on both Island Park and neighboring Nelson Park, introducing a host of improvements to the two public spaces.

Projects include both infrastructure upgrades as well as some finishing touches on last year’s amphitheater.

Chris Bundy, director of Parks and Public Spaces for the city, says that "it’s perfect timing" for the projects to be happening now. The outdoors can be a welcome respite from COVID-19 and staying home and social distancing.

"When you have something like the pandemic, something that no one anticipated, the value of parks is highlighted," Bundy says.

"To get out and enjoy the parks and enjoy nature, people really appreciate the ability to do that right now."

For those that enjoy walking the perimeter of the island, they are used to utilizing a half-mile of paved trail and then walking in the road for the other half-mile. It’s something that Bundy heard a lot about in the city’s master planning process, he says.

The city has responded. A paved trail is being constructed to complete the loop, guaranteeing a paved trail that encircles the whole island. Outdoor fitness equipment is also being installed adjacent to the trail.

On the north end of the island, the bridge that connects Island Park to Pickens Field is being replaced. The current bridge, which is to be demolished, is over 30 years old and not ADA-compliant. The new bridge will comply with accessibility standards as set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Both projects should be completed by the end of August.

Elsewhere on the island is the Island Park Amphitheater, which first opened in 2019. The amphitheater will undergo its scheduled finishing touches, including the sealing of its sound walls and ceiling. The work could be completed by the end of the week, weather-permitting.

Meanwhile in Nelson Park, the construction of a paved walkway will connect the gazebo to the fountain in Centennial Gardens, each of which has been made possible, in part, through contributions from Isabella Bank. The walkway should also be done by the end of the week.

"We wouldn’t be to do these projects without contributions from the community, organizations like Isabella Bank and grants from the DNR," Bundy says.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.