This property at the southwest corner of North Powers Parkway West and West Placone Lane will become two new Little League baseball fields and a park with other amenities.

The city Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday night approved the conversion of 8.5 acres of land in The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado to build a new city park.

The land, at the southwest corner of North Powers Parkway West and West Placone Lane, will be home to two new Little League baseball fields and other amenities, alleviating an athletic field crunch in the city.

The acreage was changed from single-family residential zoning to parks and recreation–open space in part to address economic consequences of a field shortage.

“Little League has been operating for over a decade on softball fields and struggles to provide practice space based on the demand other organizations – including city-run programs – have on the field inventory,” said Nathan Ullyot, the city’s parks and recreation director. “Little League serves our residents, so providing that space is a huge priority for us. However, when Little League games are being played on Saturdays it takes the space away from possible tournament rentals that could utilize the complex.”

“In 2021 alone, we estimate the economic impact of our tournament reservations at $4.1 million,” he said. “So, having space for our residents to play ball means space for people to come play ball and spend money in our city.”

The land for the fields was donated to the city by METRO RED-1 LLC, the developer of The Lakes; Meritage Homes of Arizona; and the Rancho El Dorado Phase III Homeowners Association.

According to the development agreement:

“The Association has agreed to dedicate the park site to the City; the City agrees to accept the dedication of the Park Site and to develop the park site as a public park for use as a City park that may include, but not be limited to playground equipment, sports fields, green space and parking; and Metro and Meritage have agreed to pre-pay certain Parks and Recreation Development Fees by making $800,000 in cash contributions to the City to be used towards development of the park site.”

The park will also feature basketball courts, a playground, reservable ramada and open green space in addition to the baseball fields, Ullyot said. He said the baseball fields will be completed first and the other amenities will be constructed in a second phase.

At 8.5 acres, Ullyot said the park is smaller than a typical city park, but the donation and the city’s need called for action.

“In general, most city parks will be 30+ acres,” Ullyot said “But this opportunity was a smart financial decision and let us meet the need of our city faster.”

Funding for development of the park is in the city’s 2022-23 budget as a capital improvement project and is scheduled for completion in fall 2023.

Ullyot said the new park will have additional recreational benefit.

“This land was in a good place to develop as a park and also a trail head,” he said. “The (Western Area Power Administration) lines will be a trail corridor for the City, and this parcel sits less than a quarter mile from that corridor,” he said. “Providing a place for our residents to connect has always been a clear direction from our council and voters. This park will do that for our Little League families and residents in general for other passive use activities.”