Hollister unveils plans for proposed recreation advanced | Native Information

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Hollister residents can look forward to a new recreation area.

The city of Hollister on Tuesday, May 17 announced plans for its newest green space, the Roger and Becky Braden Recreational Complex.

The complex, located off Laurel Street between Myrtle Avenue and Evergreen Street, will feature upgrades to the current basketball court, Pepper Dog Park and Tiger Park Playground. The project will also receive new features: a new pickleball court will take the place of the old tennis court, a new pavilion with picnic tables, new benches, a toilet facility, walking paths and a new parking lot are planned for the park. The project will expand the current park with a generous two-acre donation from the Braden family.

“The Braden family’s gift to the city is incredible,” Hollister Mayor Lamar Patton told Branson Tri-Lakes News. “It becomes part of a legacy for the citizens of Hollister.”

According to Hollister Assistant City Manager Denise Olmstead, the project began when the Hollister Park Board began looking at ways to revitalize the Tiger Park Playground and tennis courts.

“We initially looked with the Park Board at ways to rejuvenate Tiger Park,” Olmstead said. “So within the complex is the Pepper Dog Park, which is very popular locally. When tourists come to town, they also know about Pepper Dog Park.

“So we’re going to be making a few upgrades to keep it up to date. The tennis court has always been a fighting point for us because the drainage from Laurel Street onto the courts themselves made them difficult to maintain. So we have to wash it constantly and try to find ways to keep the mold away from it. Due to the nature of the matter last year we started diverting the stormwater from the road along a curb line into the actual drainage so we could improve that portion of the tennis court and originally when we started doing this we talked about refinishing and repainting also the basketball court.”

Olmstead said the City and Parks Authority then went to their citizens to see what the need was for sports spaces that could be better utilized in the future.

“We currently do not have our own park for sports. We have some grassy areas with basketball hoops, but not really a dedicated pitch. We have played tennis in the past. But we kind of looked around and saw what the needs of the community were,” explained Olmstead. “Obviously pickleball has grown into a huge nationwide outdoor recreational sport for multiple generations. And we looked at the court and figured that instead of putting a tennis court back where it was for minimal use, we could actually put four pickleball courts on the same court. The surface of the course is still in great condition. A few patches need to be made to paint a surface on it.”

The Parks Authority and city officials reached out to local pickleball players to help design and plan for the course’s future.

“We reached out to (Sandy) Leech at the schools, who we knew was an avid pickleball player. She engaged the pickleball community to help us get it right, do the measurements, the surface, the fencing around it, so we had a plan for that,” Olmstead said. “We actually met them out there and got a crash course in pickleball. It was a really fun evening.”

While we were out at the park, some glaring issues were noticed.

“While we were there looking around, we talked about some of the needs that the park has, especially if (we) were going to host an event there,” Olmstead said. “Having a shaded area where (people) can sit out of the sun while they wait to play. Toilets like we found in all our park toilets are in great need as we try to integrate them more and more into our green spaces. While we were up there, we noticed that our parking lot, shared between Tiger Park and Pepper Dog Park, can fit maybe seven to eight cars. We had 13 crammed in there that night and I’m not sure how anyone got out when it was time for them to go.”

The city went to the drawing board to find solutions to the problems.

“This whole project was a group effort within the park board. (which) was a driving force behind it. It was a bottom-up project,” Patton said.

Parking was one of the major issues considered and addressed in the planning process.

“You know the city street isn’t really designed for curb parking now, and when you have four active pickleball courts with people waiting while some people play in the playground and use the dog park, parking lots, and infrastructure for the park becomes important,” Olmstead said. “The old elementary school next to Tiger Park (owned by the Braden family with Trinity Christian Academy) has been empty for quite some time. The Braden family donated it and the land to this project. We reached out to them to discuss their future plans for this building. We spoke to them about our hopes for the park and what we want for this area with its central location and proximity to downtown.”

According to Olmstead, repurposing the former elementary building would not have been financially feasible for the city.

“To really repurpose or use this space would require a demo of the building and a fresh start,” Olmstead said. “The first step will be to remove the building. So we are in the process of doing what needs to be done before this can happen. Once we remove the building we can see what shape the concrete slab is. We had hoped to use a large part of it for the parking area.”

The installation of sanitary facilities is also planned on the site where the old school building is currently located.

“We’ve had people talking about just putting Port-a-Potties out there, but those are only temporary solutions. It’s not a long-term goal,” Olmstead said. “When you have a facility like this, it really needs a toilet that can accommodate multiple people at the same time.”

The proposed pavilion will be placed between the new pickleball courts and Tiger Park Playground.

“The gazebo and picnic tables will be similar to the gazebo we put up in Connell Park, which is a small metal structure to protect people from the sun and rain. There will be some picnic tables,” Olmstead said. “People who might be watching their kids play at Tiger Park can sit in the shade or watch the pickleball game. It will be a good place for that. The playground equipment will remain as it is for the time being. We hope to install some new equipment there in the coming years.”

One feature the plans hope to highlight is proximity to the historic cedar steps and nature that faces the proposed parking lot. There are plans to have a walking trail connecting the steps to the park, meandering around the park’s public areas.

“It’s actually connected to downtown by the cedar staircase, which is another project we started looking at. We now have the land on either side of the cedar stairs so we can go in and clean up and put those stairs back into a place where they’re inviting,” Olmstead said. “It’s not inviting at the moment. We’ve been working on speaking with companies to get an estimate of what it would take to walk five feet on either side of the stairs and open them up so that when you’re seated at the stop sign on St James Street, She can see down to what will now be the Roger and Becky Braden Recreational Complex. The cedar staircase is a landmark with historical value. It’s part of Hollister. If we have that available, maybe put some solar lights on to help for that kind of dusk and early morning use, and then connect it to the complex as part of the trails, that’s what we’re hoping to have up there.”

Patton said the project will be a welcome addition to the city and neighborhood.

“We’re very excited for this new space for the city to come together,” said Patton. “It will be great to have a recreation focus for citizens to enjoy. We are grateful for the generosity of the Braden family.”

Olmstead said the project will take several years to complete based on the size and cost of the project, but the city has already budgeted some money this fiscal year to upgrade the previous tennis court, which will be converted into four pickleball courts, and the current basketball court to be revamped.

“The city is proud to bring this project to the community,” said Olmstead.

Olmstead told Branson Tri-Lakes News the city plans to place a historical marker on the site to honor the former elementary school building, as well as an acknowledgment to the Braden family for helping make this new space a reality.

For more information, contact Hollister City Hall at 417-334-3262.