City officials said it will be next year before they decide where to begin in the construction of the Veterans Memorial Park.

Mayor Mike Livengood said the grading work that is now being conducted will be followed by the planting of grass.

“After it is graded and sowed, it will be left alone so the grass gets a good root,” he said. “Then we will decide what the phases will be.”

Livengood added that the east park development committee will likely meet within the year to make a recommendation on which direction park construction should go.

He noted that the city has invested about $1.5 million in the park project.

Although a sales tax initiative to fund construction has failed twice, Livengood said residents may be in favor of a lesser tax.

After we show intent, I am not going to say we won’t try for it again,” he said. “Once people see what we are doing, they might have a different attitude about it.”

Phase 1 of the park project will consist of excavation and mass grading for two soccer fields, one football field, five baseball/softball fields, two ponds and various support infrastructure.

When completed the park will be a full-service facility with concession stands, bleachers, restrooms, and other amenities, which will support sporting events, including walking trails, playgrounds, wetlands and other passive park features.

The grading contract was awarded to Karrenbrock Excavating, New Melle, which bid $486,278.78. The project was estimated to cost $575,000.

There is about 100,000 cubic yards of earthwork, and the grading plan includes 24-foot-wide roads. Seeding is expected to be completed in early October.

SWT Design of St. Louis provided the original conceptual plan and master planning for this project. Cochran of Union is providing civil engineering, inspection/testing and construction administrative services.

Park Design

The park was planned to meet the growing needs of youth sports leagues in the Union area.

In the plans are marshlands and water sources to be utilized as a conservation area, or passive park, as well as picnic areas and shelters.

There also are playgrounds, a maintenance shed, lakes or ponds, pavilions and other amenities, including a “loop trail” intertwined with smaller trails.

SWT Design utilized requests and demographics to determine the city’s parks needs that could be met at the east park location.

Elected city officials, city staff, members of the east park development committee and Franklin County youth sports leaders submitted requests to SWT Design of what they would like to see included in the park.

East Park History

A group called the Franklin County Youth Sports Organization (FCYSO) was the initial driving force in the push for more sports fields to support the growing number of children who participate in baseball, softball, soccer and football.

The city purchased the land earmarked for a park, and the FCYSO later disbanded.

A city east park development committee formed, which included members of the FCYSO, sports organization heads and parks and recreation advisory board members.