To cross or not

City leaders weigh future of low water crossings in Snell-Crawford Park

-Submitted graphic
A new sidewalk and a circular vehicle access point would be created to help people reach the cabin in Snell-Crawford Park that’s near Williams Drive.

Splashing through the low water crossings has been part of the experience for generations of people visiting Snell-Crawford Park in Fort Dodge.

There’s a chance that going through those crossings of Soldier Creek won’t be an option in the future.

City leaders are now considering two options for the future of the park. One would close the crossings. The other would keep one of them open with some modifications to make it safer.

Those options were presented to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission Monday evening. The commission did not make any decisions on them. It will make a decision at a future meeting. Ultimately, the City Council will have the final say because it will have to authorize the spending necessary to make changes at the park.

Snell-Crawford Park, along Williams Drive, was adopted in 1996 by the Fort Dodge Rotary Club. That club has invested between $400,000 and $500,000 in the site since then. In perhaps one of the club’s most visible contributions to the park, it donated about $15,000 to buy the two 50-foot long pedestrian bridges that were installed in 2001.

-Submitted graphic
This overhead view shows how Snell-Crawford Park might look in the future if a low water crossing is closed. A new play area, shown in the center, would be created. A new circular turnaround area, shown above the play area, would be built close to where the low water crossing was.

Kraig Barber, a member of the Rotary Club, told the commission Monday that the group strongly supports keeping one water crossing open.

”The public wants it, we want it,” added Dr. Matt Maggio, the chairman of the Rotary Club’s Park Committee.

Barber was complimentary of the plans developed by ISG, of Des Moines, which include the two options for the water crossings.

”The plan looks really great,” he said. ”There’s a lot of great ideas put in.”

Nathan Gruver, a landscape architect with ISG, said both options are intended to increase mobility in the park for all users.

-Submitted graphic
The area in Snell-Crawford Park near the cabin may look like this someday. A new path linking the cabin area to Williams Drive is shown in the foreground.

Gruver said Snell-Crawford Park is one of the busiest parks he’s worked with.

The first option, according to Gruver, is to remove the low water crossings.

There are two such crossings in the park. However, the easternmost crossing near a structure called the Granger Cabin is so badly deteriorated that it can’t be used, according to Gruver.

Under the first option, the westernmost crossing would be blocked with big stones. Gruver said those stones would be a water access point for park visitors.

The park road would become a deadend with a circular parking area near the closed water crossing.

-Submitted graphic
A loop of Soldier Creek in Snell-Crawford Park may look like this someday. A low water crossing at right is shown blocked by large rocks. One of the foot bridges is to the left, while the Granger Cabin is shown in the background.

A pair of storm water retention ponds would be created near the park road where a trail that was once a road comes down a hill into the site.

The second option calls for keeping the westernmost water crossing, but adding some large stones on both sides of it to separate the vehicles from pedestrians.

Also, a sharp bend would be created in the park road just before the water crossing. Vehicles would have to negotiate the sharp bend, then turn right to go through the crossing. Gruver said that arrangement is intended to force traffic to slow down before going through the crossing.

Both options would include increased access to the cabin near Williams Drive. A sidewalk connecting Williams Drive to the cabin would be built. Also, a circular area where vehicles could pull in close to the cabin would be created.