Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A parking lot no more

It’s all but official. The Madison Street road end is going to end its long life as a picturesque spot for parked cars and garbage receptacles. At most, it will become a park. And at least, it will not be parked on any more.

That’s the word from the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, as conveyed by Donald Harris, the Department’s Property and Acquisition Services Manager. He delivered the news at the Madison Park Community Council meeting earlier this month, and I understand that he repeated the news last week at the community forum at which the “final schematic design” for the LOLA project was unveiled.

Harris’s message was this: “We don’t think that Park property being parked on is good public usage. Regardless of the outcome of the [LOLA design process], we are going to reclaim the parkland.” He said that the State’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which owns the area of the road closest to the water, is in total agreement with the City and will also reclaim its property for use as parkland. That means that the cars and waste receptacles will have to go. The only question is when.

Technically the area in question is not a road end, though it sure looks like one. Although E. Madison Street appears to end at the barrier in front of the pier, the street actually ends at 43rd Avenue E. The area beyond 43rd is not a City street. The Parks Department therefore has the authority to cordon off the area, making it car free.

As previously reported, area merchants are none too happy about the situation, and several of them made their opposition known at the community forum last week. The purpose of the meeting was to get public input on the design for the planned park on the site, but the focus of the meeting turned instead into a discussion of parking. In the end, however, it was made clear that if there is to be any additional parking created in the neighborhood, it will not be on the site of the new LOLA park.

About fifty people showed up at the community forum for an opportunity to see and comment on the new park plan, designed by Murase Associates. The meeting was the last step in the schematic design phase for the park. The next phase is design development, according to Murase’s Liz Wreford Taylor.

The design, shown above, has been significantly scaled back from the original three design options presented by Murase at an earlier community meeting. Taylor says that final design incorporates the best elements of the initial designs and reflects the input given at the previous community meetings. The site plan features a sloping “hardscape” surface, a flat terrace area, a ramp to the pier, and no decking.

The water feature, which was a prominent element in the previous designs, is also out. Additionally, the current plan eliminates the cherry trees. They, like the wooden decking and water feature, presented a potential maintenance problem for the City, according to Taylor. It’s possible, however, that one or more of these elements might be reintroduced as the design development phase of the park moves forward. “I think the community wants cherry trees,” Taylor notes, for example. “We just need to find a way to fit them in.”

This design is by no means final, in other words. Changes in the configuration of the spaces and the materials may still occur. Taylor notes that the design team is still open to suggestions from the community. Those interested in giving their input may do so by emailing Taylor (ltaylor@murase.com), or by contacting the Madison Park Community Council (council@madisonparkcouncil.org).

[Graphics courtesy of Murase Associates. Click on images to enlarge.]

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad the city has so much money to spend on things like this.

    Too bad they can't spend as much effort on the horrible conditions of some of the local streets. But I guess fixing streets is kind of boring for some of these bureaucrats.


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