Gretna’s new $60 million park will open Saturday

Gretna Mayor Mike Evans examined the history.

The last time the city of Gretna built a community garden was in 1967, Evans said Wednesday.

“We only had 1,400 people,” Evans said. “After eight thousand people, after 55 years, maybe it’s time for a bigger park.”

On Saturday, city officials will cut the ribbon for a large celebration.

The city is opening a new 157-acre community park with a lazy river, waterslides, amphitheater, golf course, fishing pond, 12 sports fields and a new YMCA building featuring an indoor competition pool.

City Manager Paula Dennison said the new Gretna Crossing Park project is worth about $60 million.

City officials say the park, located at 21280 Capehart Road, will meet the recreational needs of the growing community.

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The outdoor water sports center at the bottom and the fishing pond at the top of the photo are part of the soon-to-open Gretna Crossing Park.

Photos by Chris Macian, The World-Herald

“We have a tremendous amount of parks that serve the immediate area more,” Dennison said. “This, as a complete Gretna community park, positions us to be able to serve the entire community for the next 100 years.”

When new businesses and industries inquire about moving to Gretna, one of their questions is about quality of life, she said.

“I talk to many business owners and developers looking to build new projects or move from all over the country,” she said. “One of the things they always say is: ‘Our employees seek the highest quality of life wherever they live.’”

Nebraska communities are competing with Kansas City, Minneapolis, Denver and other areas, Evans said.

“This is where our kids move to because they don’t have great things,” he said. “So we have to work together to provide things like this to really help keep our talented kids in the state.”

The park is located about 1.5 miles north of the Nebraska Crossing Shopping Center, which is located at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Nebraska Highway 31.


Baseball and softball fields at the new Gretna Crossing Park.

Chris Macian, World-Herald

City officials said the park will complement any future development that may come near the center as a result of the Transformative Good Life Projects Act, which lawmakers passed last session.

Rod Yates, owner and developer of Nebraska Crossing, had advocated its passage as a way to further develop the area as a tourist destination.

Workers were busy Wednesday working at the water park, with its water slides and lazy river, which won’t open until next summer.

They were also mowing the lawn and putting the finishing touches on the rest of the garden.

Gretna voters in 2020 approved a half-cent city sales tax increase to pay for bonds to build the park.

Separately, voters approved a school bond issue that includes money for the pool, which will be used by Gretna East and Gretna High swimmers and the public.


The YMCA’s indoor pool at Gretna Crossing Park will be used by the Gretna High School swim teams as well.

Chris Macian, World-Herald

The city owns the new Gretna Crossing YMCA building, and it will be operated by the YMCA. The water features outside the building will also be managed by the YMCA.

“It’s the city, it’s the school district and the YMCA all working together to make this happen,” Evans said.

The 72,000-square-foot building is “definitely a showcase,” said Rebecca Deterding, president and chief operating officer of the YMCA of Greater Omaha.

“We will have plenty of space to do all of our programs that serve the community, from summer camps, aquatics, swim lessons, and health and wellness services,” she said.

The center has been offering community tours and registering new members for several weeks and will be fully operational Monday, she said. If community members are interested in joining the YMCA staff team, the center is hiring, she said.

The park’s fishing pond is stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluefish. Officials said trout will be stocked occasionally.


The new park will include a stocked fishing pond.

Photos by Chris Macian, The World-Herald

The amphitheater has floor seating for 1,200 people, and its smaller stage is reserved for local events and shows.

Sports fields include four baseball fields, four softball fields, and four soccer fields. Officials say the fields will make it a destination for outdoor sports activities.

The dog park is divided for small and large dogs.

There are playgrounds and a trail system with a two-mile circumferential path.

“Gretna has always been a community that values ​​activity, being part of the community, and having things to do,” Evans said.

Gretna residents always have places to gather, he said. He added that as the community grows, it needs more space.

Dennison said it’s important for the city to stay ahead of demand.

“Our citizens, residents and property owners voted the additional half-cent sales tax to build, manage and operate this park on their behalf,” Dennison said. “And we are very proud to be able – on Saturday at 10am – to say ‘We deliver.’”


A disc golf hole at the soon-to-open Gretna Crossing Park.

Chris Macian, World-Herald

The opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will be held at the amphitheater at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Events and activities will continue until 4 p.m., rain or shine.

Food trucks will be at the park. Sponsors will be set up in tents and donate swag. There will be a dog show for family pets.

Nebraska Game and Parks will provide a pond fishing demonstration. Union Omaha will have a photo op, some demonstrations and skills tests on the football fields.

The Gretna Youth Softball and Baseball Association will conduct skills tests and demonstrations on the sports fields.


There is an indoor running track surrounding the cardio equipment at the YMCA at Gretna Crossing Park.

Chris Macian, World-Herald

Music groups Gretna East and Gretna High will perform at the amphitheater. There will be a disc golf demonstration and opportunity to play.

The park’s primary sponsor is United Republic Bank, a Nebraska-owned bank headquartered in West Omaha.

A full list of activities can be found on the park’s website

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