Thursday January 29, 2015
Many residents admit they were previously unaware of its existence, and neighbors whose property abuts the area may have long considered it their backyard getaway or secret gem. The space, currently referred to as Dumont Park, is on the list of future projects shaped around the growth of City Center. In the second installation of January public workshops, the City Center Park design workshop brought residents together to view circulation and site plan alternatives for this currently undeveloped wooded area.
In 1975, the city of South Burlington purchased this 7.65 acre parcel from the Dumont Construction Company. The land is adjacent to the Potash tributary 3 and its wetland and buffers. The park has a level topography, sandy soil, a high water table, and is home to a variety of plant and animal life.
The first step of the new City Center Park design phase took place October 18, 2014 with a rainy day “Walk and Talk” session through the property. After viewing the site, residents shared a strong desire to maintain the natural setting and include connections and access points.
The team of consultants--lead consultant Landworks, along with Engineering Ventures, Hartgen Archeological Associates and ecological artist Jackie Brookner--reviewed public feedback and crafted the second design phase with circulation and conceptual site plan alternatives.
The Planning Commission approved a Purpose and Need statement for the project. The purpose of the City Center Park project (encompassing the parcel commonly known as Dumont Park and adjacent areas) is to plan, design and augment a centrally located, passive-use community park using principles of ecological and accessible design. The project is intended to cultivate and enhance the park’s natural setting and features as a contrast to the developing urban context that surrounds it. The goal is to serve the needs of local residents and workers, neighbors, visitors, and people of all ages who seek the benefits of passive recreation in a wooded environment, while maintaining the area’s water quality and wetland functions.
David Raphael, Principal/Landscape Architect & Planner of Landworks, kicked off the workshop with an overview of the “Walk and Talk” feedback, characteristics of the park, and photos of the site as far back as 1942. Patrick Olstad, landscape architect at Landworks, reviewed four circulation and site plan concepts. All the concepts have potential for a myriad of amenities including boardwalks, outdoor classroom, natural play areas for children, treehouses, tire pits, native woodland plantings, wetland restoration, natural art, and natural seating. The images (left, above and right) are examples of some of the amenities that could be included in park plans.
Concept A: This alternative provides connections from near Barrett St. to an access path for a Market St. stormwater feature, as well as a multi-use path/pedestrian bridge connecting Iby. St. to the park, but does not show a direct connection to the Garden St. right-of-way. Within two other circular multi-use paths, there is a proposed natural play area/outdoor classroom. All plans, including Concept A, show proposed boardwalks over a few sections of wetlands.
Concept A Feedback: Residents suggested a water drainage departure on the south path; expressed desire for a connection to San Remo Dr. and had less interest for the diagonal multi-use path as presented; there was interest in natural art and questions about maintenance such as snow removal on multi-use paths.
Concept B: This concept proposes a multi-use path connecting to the neighborhood near Barrett St. and extending north across wetlands and connecting to the Garden St. right-of-way, which may or may not have a future cycle track (see Garden St. workshop, Jan. 15 edition). This plan has the same connection to Iby St. as Concept A and shows a larger natural play area in the center of the park.
Concept B Feedback: Residents had general consensus that the proposed central area in the park was too big, and suggested scattering natural play areas throughout the park as a solution; residents also suggested to move the multi-path (shown near the central area) closer to the edge of the property.
Concept C: This concept has a multi-use path along the western edge of the parcel connecting the development near Barrett St. and the Garden St. right-of-way, and runs all the way from Healthy Living to Midas Dr.
Concept C Feedback: There was strong support for the north-south path along the western edge of the parcel; suggestions included widening the boardwalk crossing the largest wetland to serve as an observation area; making multi-paths ADA compliant with proper surfacing; including an off-leash dog park and outdoor classrooms.
Concept D: This concept proposes an arching boardwalk connecting the Garden St. right-of-way with an access path for a Market St. stormwater feature. The concept shows a multi-use path connecting the southwest part of the parcel near Barrett St. to the boardwalk north of the park and proposes a woodland clearing (with some desired trees preserved) surrounded by two larger multi-path loops. An Iby St. connection is also shown.
Concept D Feedback: Several residents liked the arching boardwalk but were concerned about the cost; it was suggested that the path circulation should shift so it doesn’t break up the quiet aspect of the site, and the scale of clearing could have a more centralized area; there was support for a treehouse and natural play areas but there concerns regarding railings.
Project Director Ilona Blanchard explained that staff asked City Council for permission to have a public vote on the TIF district in the spring or summer. City Center Park is included in the list of projects, the project is currently being funded using recreation and park fees. The city can also use TIF funds to help complete the design, but the city will first need to make sure there are sufficient funds available, she added. The “shovel-ready” date for this project is 2016.
How do you envision City Center Park? Visit www.sburl.com, view the alternatives, and share your thoughts with Project Director Ilona Blanchard at 802-846-4123.