Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2005

Park plans progress

August 11, 2005

Closing off residential streets and scrambling because of inclement weather may one day be a thing of the past for Lansing DAZE if a plan for Lansing Community Park comes to fruition.

The annual festival looks to be getting its own, permanent home in the distant future with a dedicated shelter and surrounding open space at the city's planned 128-acre park at 4-H Road and 155th Street.

Mike Smith, City Administrator, said part of the decision to move Lansing DAZE out to the park was space problems in this year's and previous festivals.

"We keep having to rearrange it; we'd like to keep it in one place," Smith said.

Although the master plan produced last Friday and Saturday in public workshops for the park is not final, the facility's design has definitely begun to take shape.

The preliminary plan for the park also includes an aquatic center, fields for softball, baseball, soccer and football, and a large shelter that will house a farmers market.

Jamie Miller, fireworks supervisor for Lansing DAZE and the city's Fourth of July celebration, attended both sessions.

"I think overall we achieved what we needed to," he said. "I think it's a park the community will be real pleased with. : It'll meet the needs of the city in the present and future."

The preliminary master plan for Lansing's future community park, which will be situated on land southwest of 155th Street and 4-H Road.

The preliminary master plan for Lansing's future community park, which will be situated on land southwest of 155th Street and 4-H Road.

Plans for the 128-acre park continued to take shape Friday and Saturday in a two-day public input session called a design "charrette," after a 19th-century architectural school practice meant to speed the design process through intense workshop sessions. About a dozen people attended each day of the charrette.

"The master plan will now go through some refinements," said Shannon Gordon, a senior landscape architect with Jeffrey L. Bruce & Co., the consultants developing the plan. "I am also working on some more theme element sketches that will help define the overall look of the park."

Because the plan is not final, changes still can be made. But as the plan stands, the park will have a multifeature aquatic center, three baseball fields, two softball fields, four soccer fields, one football field, a large shelter that will house a farmers market, and another shelter and surrounding open area for Lansing DAZE activities, three large ponds and several smaller ones.

The aquatic center's plan includes a water "dump bucket," which will dump gallons of water from a platform above onto children waiting below, and a swirl bucket, a funnel into which patrons slide from a tube and then spin around before dropping into a pool below. A traditional, longer slide is also planned, as well as a 25-yard swimming pool.

The park's main draw for people from around the region will likely be the "lazy river," a 600- to 800-foot long artificial river circling half of the aquatic center. Patrons float down the river, propelled by pump-driven current, in a ride that will last from three to four minutes. The river had been the most popular requested feature for the aquatic center in previous workshops held in July.

Jason Crum, the city's Parks and Recreation director, said that although he was disappointed by the turnout for the two-day charrette, "I thought it was a good process."

"Having an actual, visual model to look at makes so much of a difference, instead of a 'fantasy model,' because everyone's got their own idea of what they'd like it to be," Crum said.

This illustration shows the architectural style shared by the Lansing DAZE shelter and the main/farmers market shelter in the preliminary master plan for the city's 128-acre park.

This illustration shows the architectural style shared by the Lansing DAZE shelter and the main/farmers market shelter in the preliminary master plan for the city's 128-acre park.

To produce one plan each for the park and its aquatic center, Gordon started out with several different layouts for each plan. Advantages and disadvantages those layouts were discussed by participants and JBC designers, until at the end of each day of the charrette, one plan for the aquatic center and the park was chosen to be further refined.

One of the refinements to the park plan involved the entrance and parking.

"The first thing you see when you enter is a parking lot," Miller said of the unrefined plans.

Cody Burnett, parks and recreation supervisor, preferred one of the preliminary layouts because it featured green fields visible to visitors when they first enter the park.

Harland Russell, City Council member, was another active participant in the charrette. Russell weighed in on the advantage of smaller parking lots for being easier to grade, as most of the park's land will require grading.

Miller disliked another plan that featured several winding loops of roads, instead of a single road around and through the park, which would make the roads difficult to close off for a fireworks show.

Gordon came up with the idea of having the show viewed across one of the park's lakes as a means to double the spectacle for viewers.

The next phase for the master plan is a community survey, which Crum said should take place toward the end of August, to determine the level of support for the proposed park.

Because the final master plan has not been designed, no reliable cost estimate for the park and aquatic center is available.

Smith said some of the funding for the park probably would come from the 1 percent county sales tax that goes into effect in 2007. If more money is needed, Smith said the city would have to find other funding, possibly in the form of a bond issue put before a vote of the public

It all depends, Smith said, on what the project construction costs are.

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