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Community News

City outlines plans for Central Park

3/20/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Shown is a rendering of what the proposed Central Park, to be located between the Central Administration Building and Steese Road, may look like.
Rendering courtesy of the city of Green
GREEN — A new park under proposal for the city of Green would offer activities for visitors ranging from infants to senior citizens.

Currently being called Central Park, the proposed park would be constructed on 10 acres of property that run between the Central Administration Building (CAB) and Steese Road, with the two main vehicular entrances located at Town Park Boulevard and off of Steese Road.

Green Mayor Dick Norton, other city officials and OHM Advisors representative Tony Slanec, who helped to create the conceptual design, unveiled preliminary drawings and details about Central Park in public meetings March 12-13.

“It is amazing to think we could have this amenity in Green,” said Norton during the March 12 meeting. “It will help to create a town center.”

Green Planning Director Wayne Wiethe explained the planning process for the park started with the Massillon Road Corridor Plan adopted by Council in October 2011. In 2012, an initial rendering of the park was created, and the city acquired the land. Wiethe said a concept plan for the park, developed by a Steering Committee, was presented to the Parks Board in May 2013 for approval, and the project was incorporated into the Capital Improvement Plan approved by Council late last year, with a cost of $500,000 for design work.

According to Norton, the 13-member Steering Committee that created the conceptual plan included himself, Wiethe, Service Director Randall Monteith, Parks Superintendent Mike Elkins, Council members Skip Summerville (Ward 4) and Chris Humphrey (at large), Parks Board member Donna Anderson, Green Local Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Miller and Assistant Superintendent Kevin Finefrock, Green All Sports Booster Club President Rick Rebadow, Queen of Heaven Catholic Church pastor the Rev. David Durkee, and residents Rick Miller and Nina Biscan.

“We wanted to create a cool, exciting, interesting place,” said Slanec of the conceptual plan. “The park will be a place to bring the community together.”

Slanec said proposed amenities for the park include: a 1-mile walking trail that would wind around the park, a stage for events designed for about 600 people, a large lawn area to be used as flexible space, two water features that include a splash pool and a pond, a children’s playground, a sensory garden for senior citizens, a building for restrooms and concessions and a gazebo overlooking the pond on the CAB side.

Slanec provided more details on those amenities:

  • The walkability of the park would be enhanced by keeping vehicles out of it, but a drop-off/pick-up area will be created off of the existing CAB parking lot to allow easy access.
  • The water features would include a splash pad with multiple play zones for various age groups. The water features could be designed to be motion-activated to preserve water, and it could have a helicopter spray, water jets and dump buckets. Moveable components could be incorporated to create new experiences annually. The water would not be recirculated to ensure sanitary conditions, but would instead be used for irrigation. In addition, the existing pond next to the CAB would be expanded and another would be added near Steese Road to serve as a bio-retention pond to aid in storm-water management. A deck and/or pier for fishing could be added to a pond.
  • The covered stage, to be built next to the north end ponds, would incorporate a number of sound mitigation features, such as a bowl-type design where the stage is built into the ground for better noise absorption, as well as acoustic walls and plants. The intended presentations include plays, movies, Akron Symphony Orchestra perfomances, other concerts and school choirs and bands.
  • The lawn, measuring about 100 feet by 100 feet, would be used for community events.
  • The Green Pavilion Plaza would include a building for restrooms and concessions, space that could be rented for events such as weddings, and an adjacent area for the farmers’ market. That sunken area could be flooded in the winter to create an ice skating rink.
  • An outdoor play area would incorporate “unique, organic and natural” experiences.
  • The sensory garden would be placed near the senior apartment complex, where a passive area is planned, and offer raised beds for use by senior citizens.

Other features of the park include the construction of structures to provide shade over seating areas throughout Central Park.

Parking for Central Park would be available in the existing 85-space lot next to the CAB and a new 74-space lot that would be constructed off Steese Road that would incorporate rain gardens. City officials added that parking spaces also would be available next door at Green Intermediate School, where there is another park entrance, and a vacant lot on Town Park Boulevard could provide overflow parking with about 60 spots.

A neighborhood pedestrian entrance also is planned for the Steese Road side of the park.

Norton said the park has a working budget of $5 million, with those funds to come from the Parks and Recreation Division’s allotment of 7 percent of the city’s 2 percent income tax, as approved by the city’s charter and restricted for capital improvements to city parks.

Final approval for the cost of the design work is slated to come before Council later this month, according to city officials. If approved, the design process could begin in April and take about one year to complete. Actual construction would start next spring or summer, after approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission and Green City Council. The park could be ready for use in the summer of 2016, according to city officials.

“Central Park will have a positive economic impact on businesses, and families and seniors will love the idea of the nonathletic space,” said Norton.

City officials gathered comments and questions on the proposed plans for Central Park submitted on note cards from visitors at the meetings.

Among the noted concerns during the March 12 meeting was noise associated with the stage. Norton addressed that concern, stating city officials have learned from past mistakes regarding presentations of musical bands and similar activities and are designing the stage with “sensitivity to noise.”

The mayor added planning officials have suggested it would be a mistake not to include an amphitheater in the park, and he aimed to find a balance to the noise of “life.” He requested “tolerance” from area residents.

Visitors at the meeting said they did not want to see the stage area turned into Cuyahoga Falls’ Rockin’ on the River type of events or have a repeat of the Pelican Cove issue, where loud music was played late into the night at a former South Main Street bar.

Councilman Ken Knodel (Ward 3), whose ward, along with Ward 2, would abut Central Park on the Steese Road side, asked city officials to make sure residents living nearby will be able to enjoy their yards without excessive noise.

Other comments from the public included questions about the cost of the park’s maintenance.

Norton responded estimates have been pegged at about $100,000 annually, but that includes 10 hours of daily use of the water park, which he suggested would not run during inclement weather.

“We can afford the capital cost and the maintenance pretty easily,” he said.

Norton also stressed funding for other projects would not be impacted by the park project because the revenue for the construction of Central Park would come from the income tax portion earmarked for parks. He stated that revenue amounts to about $1.2 million annually, and he added that income tax revenue for the city continues to increase.

City officials are accepting comments about Central Park through an online survey at www.cityofgreen.org/central -park2 through today, March 21. Those comments will be shared at the March 25 Council meeting, according to city officials.

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