Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2005

Ideas plentiful for city’s new park

Planners to incorporate public’s suggestions into master plan

July 21, 2005, 12:01 a.m.

Updated: July 21, 2005, 12:35 p.m.

Call the developing master plan for the new Lansing City Park a field of dreams.

A park planning workshop Friday at City Hall didn't attract as many people as organizers had hoped, but by the day's end, dozens of ideas for the park had been offered for Lansing residents to consider in deciding what kind of park they'd like. Big on the wish list: numerous ball fields.

While no more than 20 people showed up throughout the day to discuss what they'd like to see in the park, which will be on 128 acres west of the city on 155th Street, the session yielded useful data for the landscape architecture and planning firm hired to master plan the park.

"We got lots of good information today," said Andrew Kraeger, landscape designer for Jeffrey L. Bruce & Co.

Shannon Gordon, senior project manager for JBC, said what emerged from the public forums and meetings was that the new park will likely include a trail, between four and six soccer fields, a football game field and separate practice field, and between five and seven softball and baseball diamonds. Parking and access to the park will figure centrally in the planning.

Gordon, Kraeger, Richard Yates, another JBC senior project manager, and Richard Horton, a leisure facilities specialist contracted by JBC, met with Mayor Kenneth Bernard, City Administrator, Mike Smith, city pyrotechnician Jamie Miller, and recreation league commissioners for football, soccer, softball and cheerleading.

The mayor said "nothing specific" in the way of deciding the park's plan arose from his and Smith's meeting with JBC planners, but rather that it highlighted important questions as to the park's mission, including whether it will be a community or regional park.

"That's something we'll have to think about," Bernard said.

The mayor said his main concern for the park was that it feature diverse facilities, such as ball fields, a walking trail and playgrounds.

"I think we want to try, within financial constraints, to meet the requirements of all the people in the community, not just the athletes," he said.

Jason Crum, director of parks and recreation, echoed Barnard's sentiment.

"My hope is that with the community input we received through the process, the master planner can develop a park to meet the needs and expectations of the entire community," Crum said.

Among ideas discussed with the session's attendees were picnic areas, a farmers' market area with one or more open-air shelters, sculptures throughout the park, tennis courts, a batting cage, a golf driving cage, vendor utility storage areas and concession stands, and an amphitheater for live entertainment.

Shanae Randolph, director of economic development for the city, said, "There's lots of interest in an amphitheater," and suggested that it feature a pull-down screen for showing movies. The amphitheater's stage might also be filled with water in the winter for ice-skating, Gordon said.

John Hendrickson, a retired grounds maintenance supervisor for the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth and the city of Leavenworth, pushed to make ease of maintenance for the park a priority.

"Let's make it as easy as possible," Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson also suggested recreation facilities for "people my age," including shuffleboard, bocce ball and horseshoes.

Different ideas for children's playground equipment were put forth, including a climbing structure, a "sprayground," which would feature spray nozzles and fountains on a zero-depth area for toddlers.

Cassie Pawlowski, 10, said she wanted the park to have a "lazy river" - an artificial river in the planned aquatic park area that guests can ride floats down - a water slide, and a jungle gym. Amanda Sellers, 9, and said she wanted "big play equipment," including a slide.

Emily, Ashley, and Meagan Pettis, ages 5, 5, and 8 years old, sat at a table with Parks and Recreation director Jason Crum and supervisor Cody Burnett to eat cookies and draw features they'd like the park to have. Emily drew a playground slide and a succession of doodles she refused to explain.

Their parents, Deena and Bryan Pettis, coaches for youth cheerleading and youth football for the Parks and Recreation department, met with the park designers while their daughters entertained themselves with Crum and Burnett.

The park will also feature an aquatic park, which was discussed Saturday during an all-day session at City Hall.

JBC will conduct a design "charette" on Aug. 5 and 6, during which designers will draw different plans for the park in front of attendees. From there, Gordon said the designs would be judged according to public input, and the successful parts of each design would be synthesized into one or two plans. The process will be repeated until a single plan emerges.

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