An group of about 20 community members, city officials and landscape architects gathered to discuss improvements to the north sector of Davis’ Central Park this past week.
City of Davis Community Partnership Coordinator Anne Brunette said it was time to revisit the 20-year-old master plan for the park on Third and B Streets, which plays host to numerous events, including the Davis Farmers’ Market, Picnic in the Park and Movies in the Park.
“At the time the master plan was done I don’t think anyone thought the park would see half a million visitors a year,” Brunette said.
The design currently in the works for the northern sector of the park is deemed a capital improvement project – or CIP. In February 2010, Brunette went before the city council with three CIPs for Central Park’s renovations. First and foremost was the relocation and construction of new restrooms that would be moved to a more central vicinity.
The horseshoe pits’ removal and replacement with a universal play structure was the second CIP presented to the Davis City Council. Finally, the non-functioning and below-code fountain is to be evaluated. There will be possible solutions or alternatives reported to the city council.
Last week’s meeting was organized in order to relate the tentative projects that have so far been conceived and allow Davis residents to voice their opinions on the matter. Community members’ input and suggestions will be incorporated into the final plans.
Royston, Hanamoto, Alley and Abey (RHAA), the landscape architecture, design and planning firm hired for the improvements, sketched out the detailed options for the projects at the gathering. The five-decade-old firm promotes eco-awareness, a concept that came through in their proposal.
“Our philosophy is work in a sustainable way,” said RHAA Partner Aditya Advani. “We really try to understand what is sacred, try to understand what the opportunity areas are. And not do things which are unnecessary, but work with existing conditions.”
Opportunity area number one for Advani is to maintain the open feeling of the northwest portion of the park. His ideas for enclosure included removing the horseshoe pits and building a walking path and an arboretum with picnic tables. Also suggested was the idea to construct a semi-permanent ice-skating rink for winter months in the meadow. Those in attendaence seemed to agree with this suggestion.
Cordelia Hill, a RHAA partner, spoke about a new play structure that may be included in the redesigns for Central Park. “Universal play” structures allow access to recreational pursuits for all children, no matter physical, cognitive, vision or hearing disabilities.
“[Universal play] sets up an environment that allows children of varying abilities to play side by side,” she said. “We want to try not to create barriers for any child to play with another child.”
Those in attendance were able to share their views alongside the firm’s partners. One of the major concerns was the lack of bathroom stalls. Another concern was the fountain, which has long been a staple of play for children at the park. However, Brunette said if the city were to fix the fountain as is, the total cost would be upwards of $800,000. Other options regarding the fountain, she said, would need to be discussed and presented to the city council.
With the speculative proposal now gained insight from Davis’ residents, consultants’ next step will be to reflect on what was expressed at the meeting and come up with a proposition. A second workshop to discuss what has been drawn will take place the second week of June.
A large portion of the money for the renovations is from the Community Development Block Grant, which has been provided to increase accessibility in the park.
“We have a unique opportunity here,” Brunette said. “And we’re taking advantage of that opportunity to implement some of these improvements.”
KELLEY REES can be reached at email@example.com.