On Monday, June 15th, Chris Chiampi from Frederick, Seibert & Associates, Inc. presented the final design for the park renovation. The design was refined from the original concept that was created in 2013 from feedback from the community. There has always been an area that was set aside for a natural playscape space to expand recreational areas for children. This concept was never given form though so FSA was able to design the space off of the geological region we live in. Our central PA area, and much of the terrain of the east coast, is based on a unique geological layout that are ridges and valleys. The natural play area will mimic this design by altering the park terrain to the north of the current play structure to build a small mound that mimics a mountain that will run from the pavilion and ends north of the Lincoln ave parking lot near the newly planted cherry trees. Along the north side of the mound a metal slide will be incorporated into the hill. The slide will not be very long (just a few feet down) but will be 8ft wide so many children will be able to slide or roll down it together.
Limestone boulders will be be placed throughout the space, anchored into the soil, to give children natural climbing structures. Many small boulders have already been sourced from the park itself when the new security camera was being installed (camera noted on map by Birch ave parking area as white circle). This adds another element into the park that is based on the geological make up of our area.
Small wooden boardwalks will be incorporated throughout the play area. First, one that leads from the parking area into the existing play area and 2 more that will be aligned in the direction of the brown and green//purple slides so when children slide down, they are invited to continue on their adventure by running into the new area. One boardwalk is a low deck that encircles an existing tree so children can incorporate more of the existing natural elements into their adventure. Along the edge of the deck will be a series of wooden tree stumps organized in clusters so children can climb, run and balance on them. Some will be lower so smaller children will be able to play and others will be tall and have pegs exposed so children can climb between them as if on stilts. Other wooden logs will be connected with rope webs for additional climbing options.
Additional boardwalks will be to the west side of the natural play area and will be shaped like ponds or lakes to mimic the waterways in our area and they will be connected by wooden balance beams that mimic the streams, rivers and creeks that connect the larger bodies of water.
Along the north side of the natural play area will be 2 rows of long, stone seating that will mimic a river walk allowing ample space for people to watch any pick up games in the lawn or just relax under the trees and have space to spread out. Near the pavilion there is one additional row of stone seating but this side will be on the south side of the mound that runs through the natural play area so these seats will be facing the play structures so parents can sit and watch their children play. All of the stone seating will be illuminated at night with uplighting so much of the length of the park is lit up enough to highlight the space and provide added security without shining into neighboring properties.
The south side of the existing play structure will have a hedge installed so there is a vegetation border that acts as a living fence to keep children from running into the nearby alleyway.
To the east of the pavilion there will be a space for community gardens where neighbors will be able to adopt a small plot and grow their own vegetables. It will be surrounded by fencing to keep animals from eating the vegetation. The fence would likely be a combination of wooden and metal fencing to keep animals out but would allow for artistic additions that the community could create over time. The spaces would be for neighbors who don’t have a space to garden and it will help build community by having more neighbors get to know one another and keep a watchful eye on the park by investing time there.
Along the east of the pavilion there would be a connecting walkway from the handicapped parking to the main walking path loop. Along this corridor there will be informative signs (noted as white lines on the map) that educate park-goers about the Valley and Ridge concept of the natural play area, a sign that highlights the volunteers and donations that made the park renovation possible, and information about the edible landscaping, community gardening and sustainability of the park.
Along the path there will be 2 mirrored areas where fruit and nut trees will be planted to expand the edible landscaping already in the park. At other spaces along the path there will be long planters (noted as brown lines on the map) that grow grapes, strawberries blueberries and other fruits, highlighted by “art in the park” renderings of the fruit so people on the other side of the park would still be able to tell what edibles are available and encourage them to walk around the path to investigate all that the park has to offer.
Along Birch Avenue, on the east side of the community gardens, there will be an ‘outdoor cafe’ with additional picnic tables and 2 brick/stone grills. The tables will have game boards incorporated into the tops so park goers could eat or play in the same area. 2 additional grills will be added to the south side of the pavilion so people using the pavilion for a gathering would have access to grilling near by and multiple separate groups would be able to cook in 2 different locations and have their own space.
The parking will be paved with asphalt and will be designed to handle more parking than what the park currently allows.
Borough Council will be presented with the design in July and after it is approved the work will be available to bid on for construction. It is likely that construction would not be able to begin prior to September. It is not clear which elements would be installed first at this point. It is likely that even if all elements would be able to be installed by the end of 2015, the grand opening celebration would be scheduled for spring 2016 when the weather warms. As timeline updates become available we will be sure to notify the public of upcoming work.
**Since this post was originally made, we have received the formal narrative from FSA that describes the design. ****