Minutes of 18 November 2006 Meeting: Park A Redesign
The following is a cleaned-up version of notes taken by FoCP secretary Brian Siano. Errors and paraphrases may be present.
The meeting began with Cindy Roberts providing background on the project.
By the mid-1990s, FoCP had been working for ten years on maintenance, and needed a new Master Plan. UCD was in a position to give us direction, and a stakeholders meeting was assembled. UCD held small meetings at first with USP, police. etc. UCD came back, and said “You have three challenges: Maintenance, which is a 24-7 problem. Infrastructure: sidewalks, playground, trees. And Quality of Life (programming): loose dogs, trash from events, noise from events, urination, and worse.
With that, UCD also suggested an approach. Clean the place up. UCD suggested holding a yearly fundraiser for maintenance, and to show major funders that we can clean this place up. Thus began the Party for the Park in 2000. This party is held every year, to raise money for maintenance.
Once that was established, UCD helped us write a request to the William Penn Foundation to do planning process. We asked for $20K, we got $50K. We put together a bigger group of stakeholders and tried to pull in all components of community. We chose thd design firm Simone/Collins, and started the process. S/C collected documentation, hired a consultant to
interview stakeholders. Surveys went out into community.
In Jan. 2001, we had first public meeting, a blue-sky meeting to solicit ideas, which designers worked from. Some of the wilder suggestions included closing Chester Ave., moving the Dickens statue to the center, etc. Then the real work started. Six public meetings helped us narrow down the plan.
What did we wind up with? A plan that has a center of park where the playgrounds and basketball court are. The southern portion is under long-term lease to USP, but the vision includes converting the parking lot to a seating area, with nicer walkways and benches.
In Park A, there is an emphasis on how the park brings people together. Proposals include improvements to the Farmer’s Market area, the seating around Dickens and the Gettysburg stone. We need to create a gathering /chess space in the center of park, and a climbable statue. UCD found funds to perform tree census by Morris Arboretum. Chris Leswing’s led this process.
We have two playgrounds; Councilwoman Blackwell pledged $100,000 to build a new playground, but we wanted a separate tot lot. William Penn gave us the necessary funds for the tot lot. We’ve been promised funding for the basketball court reconstruction, which will probably happen in 2007.
Jonathan Snyder spoke:
The Basketball Court groundbreaking is scheduled for next spring.
Clark Park is used more than ever before. Through our combined efforts, it’s in better shape than ever, but there are problems. During rainstorms, water accumulates because of drainage problems. Electrical systems are outdated, and the pathways are worn out. It is vital that we take steps now. The plan presents concepts, but we need to take other steps: thanks to a grant from UCD and the FoCP. Simone Collins was hired to present a plan.
Peter Simone of Simone-Collins outlined the initial proposal
Horseman Associates are civil engineers for the storm water management. We had extensive public participation meetings.
Park A is the image-setting area of the park. Generally, people liked the way the place is arranged.
Presented a list of desired and accomplished improvements. We have areas with no growth, pathways need complete rebuild. Working with a committee (listed on Powerpoint slide). S/C is about three-quarters of the way to making a pre-construction drawing. Concept plan will be set in December. Actual final documents are expected by March 1st. So when we get construction funding, we can call for bids
Park A circulation is very important. Some paths make sense, others are less used. The goal is to minimize walkways, get ground greener. Walkways need to be replaced. 8 foot width (is current width). Make all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. Reduce redundancies. Current entrances are not changed. One path is at a higher grade than requirements.
Maps of Simone/Collins proposed pathways, with and without trees
We should also re-establish turf to avoid mud or dust. One way is to reinvigorate the soil. This is a delicate construction procedure, requiring care around tree roots. Also, eliminating some trees lets more light in.
Statues and Stones
Enhance the spaces. Regrade and create sitting area around Gettysburg stone. Circular form, creates an area with benches around it. Low metal fences have worked very well to keep people from walking around plantings, so we may use those at corners and walkways.
The Farmer’s Market is thriving, but vendors set up on sidewalk-curb area, beats down the ground and grass. Unit pavers. Provide electrical power with new lighting system. Storage shed should be provided that should be durable, must look appropriate.
Lighting needs repair. Suggested: traditional-looking fixture (oval-like), metal halide lights. Fixtures are 14 feet tall, to create continuous areas of light throughout the park, especially along Farmer’s Market. Currently looking at lighting alternatives for Dickens statue and Gettyburg stone. A new flagpole was also suggested.
Benches are the same kind as in the new ones in south park and by Dickens statue.
Revised shape of area into oval, possible re-cobbling.
Form as full circle, special paving area.
Drainage and Stormwater Strategy
Use Porous asphalt for new paths. With new regulations, we are obligated to get a lot more rain runoff into the ground. Unit paver edge along the sides of the walkways. With special paver areas, we will use a combination of stone and concrete. Over the next 2-3 weeks, a backhoe will be in the park to evaluate drainage issues.
Perimeter sidewalks: maintain concrete. Replaces 25-50% of the concrete squares.
Trees and Vegetation
The Morris Arboretum evaluation identifies 118 trees in varying states of vitality or decline. We should remove the Norway maples, which are an invasive species. The very dense shade, and an aggressive root system, makes growth difficult. Some trees are very old and have limited lifespans. Some have weak structure and cavities.
A map presented by S/C shows new trees. More understory trees (flowering trees, native species, flower display). Removing ten Norway maples, removing eleven for location to fix grade and drainage, 10 old trees. 31 total. Planting at least 35. Will maintain clear area for volleyball.
Central space is 60-foot circle. Setting it up as 2 spaces: outer ring has game tables, 15-20 foot band that’d be a chess ring. Inner rign of smaller trees. An event could take over entire space with a low canopy.
Estimates are at $1.2 million right now. No funds are earmarked for this.
Questions from Attendees
Will walkways handle the traffic, runners, walkers, bikes, etc. ?
A: Standards are typically 10 feet, like bike trails. No magic rule, but eight should be adequate.
Asked about devising lighting that could be adjusted, i.e, brighter for Farmers’ Makret or for nighttime events in North Park, turned lower for everyday use. Also asked about consideration for a storage area for tables, Farmers’ Market equipment, lighting and water control, etc.
A: It is possible to create a different circuit for Farmer’s Market lights. The shed can serve as repository for controls, and for Hose bids and water service, too. Location: Water mains will probably influence that decision.
Read a statement that the plan generated in 2001 was without participation of stakeholder groups, like the Festival. Claimed that these groups were not permitted to join Master Plan steering committee. For parts of this to gain legitimacy, we insist that it open up to following stakeholder groups: volleyballers, flea market, drum circle, festival.
Reply from Jonathan Snyder:Many were invited into this process. But it’s been endorsed. The festival is an important event in the Park, but it’s most often in the Bowl. This is about Park A, and we’re talking about this plan.
Mentioned manhole covers and drains. Someone else asked about repair of broken and collapsed drains.
A: The emphasis is that with this construction, we’ll have less water running into the street. But Streets ought to fix that drain. Right now, we have to keep this alive at Rec.
Tom (need name):
Grass. Do we feel pressured to put more trees in, or could we try to grow more grass? Also, Light pollution: glare does not equal safety, and using the park late at night may not be desirable. Also, need more discussion of benches, gathering places.
Simone: The Lighting System could be set up to kill half the lights at 11 p.m. But pathways must be lit to ½ foot candle. (Rittenhouse Square is a good comparison.) Grass: Trees are an emotional issue—the most, in the master plan deliberations. Replacement trees are understory trees, not as much shade, allows more grass to grow.
One path eliminated was one Fran follows in the morning. People would probably cut across the grass. Regarding the Chess Players area: will the chess tables be around outer rim? They might like to be centralized, watching each other’s games.
Germaine: Trash cans in design? (Yes.) Solar lighting? Doesn’t exist to work on this scale.
Ed Halligan: Sidewalk repair.
Can they duplicate dark aggregate in the sidewalks? No, but pigment can be added.
Matt Wolfe: Walkways.
Not moving much, but a little risks damaging tree roots. Is it worth the risk to the trees? What was the reasoning here? Also, dumbest entrance is middle of Baltimore.
A: Might be removed. As for pathway decisions: some paths were moved because of physical issues, like grade. Contractor must have a light hand.
Matt Grubel: Had recent quote on exposed aggregates
50% higher cost. Concerns left from 2001: Did you use circulation data on most commonly used pathways?
Cindy: Fence along Baltimore Avenue
Is this fence still considered? (On the table.) Hedge will probably be removed, as hedges don’t really work. Perhaps low fencing with understory planting.
Chris (name): Any thought to HMS school edge? Some plantings are there, but we could probably integrate the school much better. Enclose it better with trees? Must avoid blind spots.
Fran Byers: Safety matter:
Make sure edging doesn’t rise above ground level. Avoid trips.
Diane Gallagher, HMS offered to talk about the fence border.
Lew Melman: Construction:
On tot lot, contractor used trees to hold up fencing. Wants to reiterate circulation paths. Also, there was discussion of traffic bumpouts on Chester Ave.
Tony West: Bumpouts:
Fundamentally separable from the project. We have to address issues that are integrated with others.
Fran Byers commented that a Bumpout at 44th and Chester’d be a bad idea.
Lew Melman: Asphalt.
Can it be colored? A: Penn Alexander has it.
Cindy Roberts: One use we have now: Lots more families. Story telling this summer. Need quiet place for young children.