Phase 1 of Fairfield’s Harbin Park reconstruction set for summer: What comes next

The city has contracted with Brandstetter Carroll for the final engineering and structural design plans of the first phase of the Harbin Park improvements. FILE
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The city has contracted with Brandstetter Carroll for the final engineering and structural design plans of the first phase of the Harbin Park improvements. FILE

Phase 1 work includes a rebuilt overlook picnic shelter.

It’s been talked about for several years, but the first signs of new construction at Harbin Park are set for this summer.

Fairfield City Council approved a $29,000 contract with Brandstetter Carroll, Inc. to complete the final engineering and structural design plans for the first of three phases of improvements at Harbin Park, the city’s largest and most-used park.

“It’s very exciting that we’re finally to this point,” said City Councilmember Leslie Besl, chair of the council’s park committee. “Obviously, this is something we’ve been working toward, and I think our residents are going to be excited to finally see something happening.”

Phase 1 work is to include a rebuilt overlook picnic shelter, replacement of the wooden shelters, a new year-round restroom facility, an improved playground area, and an expanded bike and walking trail. The first phase of the Harbin Park renovation project is slated to be completed by June 2022.

Parks and Recreation Director Tiphanie Howard said the city’s hope is that the finalized design is finished by late spring and dirt being moved by early summer. A timeline of how long it could take wouldn’t be set until the design work is complete, but a condition of the state grant funding the city received in the 2020 capital budget bill, is the project is to be completed by June 2022. However, they could file an extension if necessary, but Howard hopes they won’t need that extension.

“I’m super excited to be part of this opportunity for Fairfield and delivering on a promise that our department made quite a few years before I got here,” she said. “Being a part of that, delivering that promise to our residents is something that I value.”

Harbin Park is more than 200 acres of open land and wooded areas. It was developed in the mid-1970s and first named Fairfield Municipal Park. The park was later renamed for former Fairfield mayor William Harbin.

Phase 1 has received state funding from last year’s capital budget bill. The state allocated $550,000 to the overlook pavilion project and $150,000 to expand the walking/bike trail that will encircle the park. The total Phase 1 cost is expected to be $1.5 million.

This first phase of work was set up by the 2017 demolition of an old barn, the former ranger station and a storage shed.

The second and third phases of the Harbin Park redevelopment is based on the progress of the first phase, said Howard.

Architectural and engineering work for Phase 2 could begin around June 2022. Plans for that phase includes constructing larger picnic shelters in the southeast corner of the park. The pond in the area will also need to be improved and year-round restrooms are also planned for this section of the park.

About 18 months after the start of Phase 2, the architectural and engineering work will begin for Phase 3, which planned projects include improvements at the entrance and the adjacent field.

In 2016, all three phases were expected to cost about $4.2 million, and Howard said that the price tag isn’t too much more now. It’s slated to be around $4.5 million to $5 million.

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