July 26, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Updated July 26, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
People attending the Tuesday, Aug. 1, National Night Out at North Park in Albany will be able to walk along a nature trail, which includes a floating walking path; view the lake from an observation pier; play or watch pickleball or tennis and utilize a dog park.
They are among the new amenities at the 50-acre city-owned park on the north side of town.
The Albany Jaycees and Friends of North Park worked with the Albany Park Board and city council to develop phase one park improvements. Most of the improvements, including materials and labor, were funded by private donations, including future maintenance. Part of the new pickleball courts received city funding, already reserved for pickleball courts.
“It adds to the journey of being community members when this is all done, and what we achieved and accomplished because of what we did together,” said Dalton Herzog, Jaycee member and project volunteer.
There is potential for this much-used city owned park, said Frank Haynes, Friends of North Park member.
“The Jaycees have their ice cup here,” Herzog said. “And the shelter is reserved a lot. The Jaycees built the structure … and there is such a demand they added on three times.”
Children utilize the playground equipment, people walk on the current trails, and there is a skate park and frisbee golf.
Improvements piggyback on a 2019 city survey indicating a dog park, pickleball courts and a splash pad were top ideas.
Over the years, there have been discussions about enhancing and better utilizing North Park, Haynes said.
“With phase one we are trying to capture the assets Albany has; one idea being to get North Lake to be more enjoyable and accessible to the community,” Haynes said.
Work on the improvements started immediately after Albany City Council members approved phase one in March.
“There was still snow on the ground,” Haynes said.
On his cell phone, Herzog, sitting in the park pavilion with Haynes July 18, brings up a photo of the first diseased trees volunteers took down around 3 p.m., March 26. Dedicated individuals cleared brush and diseased trees from around an existing reflection pond, and the tree removal also made the lake more accessible.
“Once phase one is settled, we’ll be looking to plant new trees as needed,” Haynes said.
A nature trail connects with other waking paths throughout the park, including around a reflection pond.
“The walking path will be continuous,” Herzog said.
The Department of Natural Resources was involved with the development of the nature trail, part of which goes through a marshy area.
“The nature trail is a good example of one of the goals to get families and children outside and away from their TV and electronics,” Haynes said.
Pickleball courts and tennis courts are north of the pavilion.
“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S., and now we have six of them,” Haynes said.
A fenced-in dog park is in a secluded, shaded area of the park.
“The pickleball court, dog park and walking paths will all have different audiences,” Haynes said.
Herzog added, “It’s important for people to feel welcome in their own park.”
National Night Out, coordinated by the Albany Jaycees, Friends of North Park and the city of Albany, will be the first large gathering at the park.
“It’s about bringing the community together, getting to know your neighbors,” Herzog said.
Activities from 5 to 7:30 p.m. include a free picnic meal, a bounce house, face painting, coloring and chalk station, Parker’s lemonade stand, pickleball demonstrations, information booths from local businesses and Albany Area Schools, lawn games, police and fire department displays and tours of the new improvements to the park.
Thanks to collaboration between the city, Jaycees and Friends of North Park – and hundreds of hours of volunteer work – a phase one park vision is a reality.
“There is a buzz in the community about what is going on here,” Haynes said.
“We are a growing community,” said Herzog, “and want people to come here to see what additions have been made.”