Facility Planning for Diverse Outdoor Recreation Needs

Located west of Des Moines, Iowa, Waukee is a rapidly growing suburban community of approximately 11,000 residents. The city’s population is expected to swell to nearly 13,000 by 2010. This population explosion, as well as an increased interest from residents to participate in outdoor activities, has established an urgent need for the city to plan for future available recreation opportunities to maintain a premier level of service within the community.

Several years ago, the city was able to secure an option to purchase 200 acres of land located west of the existing city corporate limits–but within the future annexation plan boundaries–for a regional outdoor recreation park. The city is currently acquiring this land in 40-acre parcels for the future Copeland Recreation Complex, and ill own the entire 200 acres by spring 2009.
In June 2007, the city retained the services of RDG Planning & Design, a national multi-disciplinary design firm
specializing in park, recreation, sports and athletic facilities design, to facilitate a public, stakeholder and user-group input process to identify the current and future recreation needs of the community, to determine the potential market for a regional outdoor recreation complex, and to develop a comprehensive program and master plan for the complex.
Guiding The Process
RDG began working closely with the directors of parks and recreation, public works and other city representatives to recommend individuals to serve on a steering committee. Several critical elements were considered to ensure individuals from recreation and sport clubs, associations, leagues and organizations within the community as well as a diverse group of park-, trail- and open-space users were represented. The primary role and responsibility of the committee was to provide an organized structure for decision-making.
In the end, the steering committee included representatives from the Walnut Creek Little League,Waukee Competitive Youth Baseball Organization, Vision Soccer Academy of Waukee,Waukee Youth Football Organization,Waukee Athletic Club Softball, Get Waukee Youth Recreation Development, a communitybased effort to encourage planning and implementation of future recreation facilities,Waukee Parks and Recreation Board,Waukee City Council and city staff.
Following the appointment of the committee, the design team launched a project Web site to provide the public access to meeting agendas and summaries, schedules, the facility program, concept alternatives, preliminary master plans and other related information. This tool became a valuable communication conduit, as committee members, residents and other interested individuals were unable to attend some of the workshops or public presentations.
Copeland Recreation Complex - Waukee, Iowa - Rendering - Master Plan1.jpg
Creating The Vision
During the initial project workshops, the following goals and expectations were established for the Copeland recreation Complex:

  • Create a community sense of place and identity
  • Fulfill the community’s recreation needs and promote regional user appeal
  • Provide a diverse range of multi-generational recreation opportunities
  • Integrate appropriate natural resource stewardship, best-management practices and long-term, sustainable design solutions
  • Develop a facility that is a destination for regional users
  • Develop a facility to serve as a catalyst for adjacent development
  • Offer year-round recreation opportunities
  • Design safe and accessible facilities
  • Design multipurpose facilities
  • Design superior-quality recreation amenities.

Listening To The Community
The design team facilitated several public-input meetings and conducted interviews with individuals of each specific user group to understand each organization’s operational and financial structure and future participation levels. The meetings were well-attended by citizens of Waukee, residents from adjacent communities and representatives from various sports organizations. The information from these sessions was analyzed, summarized, and presented to the steering committee. Through an evaluation process guided by a list of programming criteria, the design team recommended a preliminary program for the complex.
Developing Alternatives
After establishing the preliminary program, the design team developed several conceptual alternatives that incorporated some or all of the identified elements. The team and steering committee met to further refine these alternatives. Some of the elements included an outdoor performance pavilion, disc-golf course, splash-pad water feature, lakeside terrace, miniature-golf course and a multi-purpose stadium. These ideas were incorporated into the final program for the complex.
Final program elements include:
(4) Baseball fields–R200′
(4) Baseball fields–R300′
(4) Baseball fields–R400′
(4) Softball fields–R200′
(6) Softball fields–R300′
(6) U6 Soccer fields–75′ x 120′
(8) U8 Soccer fields–90′ x 135′
(5) U10 Soccer fields–120′ x 180′
(5) U12 Soccer fields–150′ x 300′
(4) U10 Soccer fields–210′ x 360′
(4) Football fields–180′ x 360′
(1) Rugby/Lacrosse field–180′ x 330′
(1) Cricket field–180′ x 250′
Sports field irrigation, subsurface drainage and field lighting
(4) Sand Volleyball courts
Disc-golf course
Miniature-golf course
(3) Concessions/Restroom facilities
(2) Satellite Restroom facilities
7,500-seat Spectator Stadium venue
Maintenance/Storage facility
(6) Outdoor shelters and plazas
(4) Playgrounds
Outdoor Performance Pavilion
(12) Monument Entrance signs
8-mile Park Trail network; fully ADA-compliant
(10) Trail Rest Stations
Park Trail and Wayfinding signage
Interpretive and educational signage
Multi-purpose open space
18-acre naturalized lake
ADA-compliant Lakeside Terrace
Bioretention cells, rain gardens and bioswales
Reconstructed wetland areas
Reconstructed Native Prairie areas
(1,795) concrete pavement parking spaces
(550) reinforced turf parking spaces
Creating A Strategy
Once a preliminary master plan was established, the design team proposed probable construction costs and an operating budget. Realizing the magnitude of a 200-acre sports complex and the need to construct it in phases, the team developed a priority of recreation needs for the community based on the quality, quantity and convenience of these existing facilities. The implementation strategy identifies the complex to be constructed in five phases. Through an established strategicphased approach, the city will construct the Copeland Recreation Complex to
meet the most urgent needs of the community,and ultimately provide a unique economic and development catalyst for the region. For more information on the complex, visit www.rdgusa.com/parks/waukee. PRB
Scott Crawford, ASLA, LEED AP, is a partner and landscape architect with RDG Planning & Design, which provides landscape architecture, architecture, interior design, lighting design, artistry, graphic design, strategic planning, urban design and comprehensive planning services.

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