Meeting #3 – Preferred Design Review

The third and final public workshop – “Preferred Design Review” – was held on Wednesday evening, June 8th, at Magnolia Presbyterian Church. This meeting was very well-attended, with over 70 participants, more than at any of the other meetings.

The project Steering Committee and the project landscape architect, Site Workshop, are very grateful for the enthusiastic community engagement we've seen over the past months with this project. Thank you!

Site Workshop started the meeting with a review of the process and progress so far, including a review of the "Path to a Park" timeline: at this time, the first stage, "Schematic Design", is coming to an end, with the presentation at the meeting of a "Preferred Design". What follows next, under the guidance of a new Steering Committee, will be a combination of detailed design and construction, and fundraising to pay for it.

Following Meeting #2, it was clear that the Community favored a balance between three main elements: Off-Leash Area (OLA), P-Patch, and "open space", with a strong preference for "Option C", also known as "Front Porch Play", which located the open space along the "front porch" of the Park, along 28th Ave W. In "C", the OLA is located along the northern border of the existing footprint of the Park, and the P-Patch in the south-eastern portion of the to-be-opened area currently behind SPU fences.

However, as Site Workshop explained, a detailed analysis of the OLA site made it clear that it the cost of locating the OLA along the northern border would have been very high, due to the need to mitigate slope areas (slopes are not suitable for OLAs) and the need to adequately buffer the neighbors that abut that northern boarder. Reviews of this situation with Parks resulted in the need to revise the location of the OLA.

As a result, Site Workshop created another alternative design which located the OLA closer to the "front porch", but without dominating that western border of the Park along 28th Avenue. Here is the design, which Site Workshop called "Found Places" (click for a larger view):

As you can see, this design preserves much of the "front porch" feeling of "Option C", while also locating the OLA in the flattest portion of the existing Park and farther from the neighbors to the North.

In this design, there are "found places" that highlight the unique topography, views, and opportunities for different uses and users of the Park, discovered as someone walks/bikes/jogs from one end to another.

The project Steering Cmmittee feels that this design best fulfills the Community's wishes, as identified during this process, while operating within the many constraints of the site. "Found Places" is the "preferred" plan that was presented to the Community at this meeting, and which the project team hoped the Community would accept... how was it accepted?

Participants generally understood how the plan supports the goals of the Community, and liked what they saw! And while there was some feedback on the design, it was clear that we now have a path forward for the Park, at a high level, to submit to the Department of Parks and Recreation at the conclusion of this Schematic Design phase at the end of this month.

There's lots of work remaining (detailed design and construction) and fund-raising, since at this time funding has been identified only for OLA and P-Patch elements, and no funding exists for reconfiguring fences as required to open up the Park beyond its existing boundaries (which is required, for instance, in order to install the P-Patch).

The project Steering Committee would like to thank Site Workshop for their creativity and persistence in finding such a great design solution for a complex and constrained site!

As the meeting progressed, Site Workshop went into further detail about the OLA in "Found Places", outlining two specific options: a smaller OLA that could likely be built using already dedicated funds, and a larger OLA that would require additional funding by the Community.

Here is the schematic for the smaller OLA (click for a larger view):

Here is the schematic for the larger OLA (click for a larger view):

As you can see, the larger OLA is, at 21,000 square feet, nearly a third larger than the smaller OLA, and also offers a longer "chuck it" axis (by 20%) for throwing/retrieving.

But this larger OLA is also more expensive.

The Department of Parks and Recreation indicated early in this Schematic Design project that it intends to implement in 2011 the OLA portion of whatever preferred design emerges at the end the project, using $70,000 in dedicated funds. If Parks follows this plan, the result would be the smaller OLA described above.

However, given all of the Community input to date about the need for a larger OLA, the project Steering Committee decided that it was important to also show the larger OLA plan above, to test community support. As it turns out, at the Meeting there was strong support for delaying implementation of the OLA and for working together to raise the additional funds required: the project team calls this the "do it once, do it right" approach.

At the meeting, the Parks representative, Pamela Kliment, indicated that Parks is very interesting in finding a way to make this larger OLA plan work, by delaying implementation of the OLA design element for a specified period to allow fundraising.

With the conclusion of this meeting, the work of the "Schematic Design" Steering Committee is nearly done. A schematic design has been created through extensive Community engagement, and which represents a Park which will offer something for everyone.

The meeting concluded with the introduction of the new Steering Committee. This team forms the basis of "Friends of Magnolia Manor Park". This new team will pick up where the "Schematic Design" team leaves off, starting with a robust fund-raising plan. In fact, the new team "passed the hat" at the meeting and, based on the significant amount that was raised there, is excited to be off to a running start.

Thank you!

Want more information about the meeting? Here are additional presentation materials prepared by Site Workshop (click for larger views):

And here are photos of the crowd and presentation: