AZTEC — By summer, kids and their families will have more reason to hit the swings or swat a baseball thanks to efforts by the city to increase and improve its park spaces.

People looking for recreation options can soon enjoy a new neighborhood park in the Kokopelli subdivision or improved baseball fields at Hartman Park.

Kokopelli Park will be located east of U.S. 550 and south of Navajo Dam Road.

The improvements are part of the city's Parks and Recreation Enhancement Plan, which was designed to provide added green space for residents and visitors alike.

"The city recognizes how active the Aztec community is and how much our residents and visitors appreciate public spaces that allow them to relax and recreate in our beautiful town," said Community Development Director Roshana Moojen. "Park improvements and expansions provide our community with public assets that serve generations of residents, promote healthy and active lifestyles, and showcase and preserve the amazing natural landscapes we are so lucky to have here in Aztec."

Last summer, a new "splash and play" water park and playground were installed at Minium Park. Riverside Park received new restroom facilities in the fall.

When it opens in May, Kokopelli will be the city's third neighborhood park and its seventh overall.

"Kokopelli Park is a community park project that has been on the planning schedule for quite some time," City Manager Josh Ray said.

The planned Kokopelli Park on Anasazi Drive is just over half an acre and will cost $86,000 to complete.


Commissioners last September approved funding for much of the park's implementation, but because of budgetary constraints construction will be done in two parts.

The Parks and Recreation Department just finished clearing and leveling the ground. But the recent snowy weather has temporarily halted work.

"Once we get the snow off the ground, we can start putting in the irrigation system and then place the playground," said Steve Mueller, director of Parks and Recreation. "We will also put in perimeter fencing, sidewalks and shade trees."

The second phase will add a small pavilion and picnic tables if commissioners approve funding in future fiscal years.

One unseen element is a gas pipeline that bisects the park near the entrance.

Mueller said the line is not a safety issue.

"The pipeline does not run under the play area and is absolutely not a concern," he said.

And this month, city commissioners approved spending nearly $33,000 for improvements to Hartman Park's two baseball fields.

"We want to upgrade the ball fields at Hartman to enhance our baseball and softball programs," Ray said. "This will also hopefully attract regional tournaments to our community."

The parks department has just replaced the two fields' backstops. One of the fields requires more extensive renovation, including chain-link fencing to wrap around the field and dugout, new posts, and gates.

Next, Mueller said, is the installation of exterior fitness equipment donated by San Juan Regional Medical Center along trails in Riverside Park.

"The fitness equipment should be in place and ready for use sometime in spring," Mueller said.

The addition of Kokopelli Park will expand the city's parkland to more than 128 acres, Moojen said.

"That does not even include the additional trail systems or the vast acreage of accessible (Bureau of Land Mangement) lands and MotoCross tracks available to residents right here in Aztec City limits," Moojen said. "We take fun, recreation and basking in our natural environment very seriously here."