PRESCOTT - The tree-lined shore of picturesque Goldwater Lake already is a popular spot for weddings, family reunions and barbecues.
The soon-to-be-complete improvements at the popular Senator Highway-area lake should make it an even bigger draw.
For the past three months or so, workers with Fann Contracting have been on site, putting in the new parking lots, ramadas, restrooms, playground equipment, and roads that are part of an $846,741 City of Prescott contract.
The work should be complete by about the first of the year, and Prescott Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes said the city is planning a grand opening in March.
The improvements, which are south of the existing lake park, will be the first substantial changes at Goldwater Lake since the 1979 construction of the day-use area.
"Little things have been done since then, but essentially, we haven't capitalized on the property here," Baynes said this week.
The result: Overcrowding at the park throughout much of the summer.
Parking spaces regularly fill up early on sunny weekend days, Baynes says. And from about Memorial Day to Labor Day, the existing ramada at Goldwater Lake is booked up as much as a year in advance.
With the improvements, lake users will have two new ramadas to choose from, along with a ceremony pad that overlooks the lake. Baynes and Special Projects Administrator Eric Smith predict the pad will be a popular spot for group photos for weddings and other events.
"It is a good picture opportunity of the lake," Baynes said, noting that the design for the pad takes advantage of one of the highest points in the area. The pad will accommodate about 100 people, he added.
It will have a decomposed granite surface, and will be bordered by granite boulders and trees. "We tried to keep it as natural as possible," said Brian Rainey, project supervisor for Fann Contracting.
Contractors recently poured the concrete for the two new ramadas, and Rainey said the steel work on the structures would begin next week.
One of the ramadas will be near a new playground, which workers were installing this past Thursday. Baynes said the close proximity to the playground would make the ramada a natural spot for families, while the other ramada is more secluded in the forest.
Other major improvements include a new water well, and two new restrooms - one at each of the new ramadas.
Baynes said the well-drilling work is now complete, and water testing was taking place last week. "It's a good-producing well," he said.
Smith pointed out that the well would have its own chlorination system, and would provide the water for the entire park. Workers put in the water lines early-on. The pressurized system will replace the previous arrangement that relied on stored water.
With most of the infrastructure now in place, Rainey said the project is about 90 percent complete. Baynes added that the work is on the schedule that was set out in the bid documents.
The paving, which took place about two weeks ago, adds a new road system and new parking lots consisting of 105 new spaces.
Still to come: the construction of the restroom and ramada structures; striping of the parking lot and road; and the installation of park lighting.
Smith said city crews also plan to add about 50 individual picnic sites, each consisting of two tables and a grill.
The city is paying for the project through parks impact-fee money, which was accumulated through $715-per-home fees imposed on new construction. City officials have emphasized that the impact-fee money is intended to go toward the impacts of growth. State law limits the use to expansion of "facilities and infrastructure to accommodate new demand from community growth," according to information from the city.
The Prescott City Council approved the contract with Fann this past August, and work got under way in mid-September.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter: @Cindy_Barks.
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