Pleasant Ridge: A Sweet Beginning for Gainsboro Park Planning Process

GallowayCollensTOPsunsetREVISEDPleasant Ridge: A Sweet Red Door Realty Ad _own_your_dreamBeginning for Gainsboro Park Planning Process

(C. Proxmire, July 20, 2015)

Citizen engagement goes well with ice cream and Bubble Soccer. At least this is how it seemed at the community planning session about the future of Gainsboro Park in Pleasant Ridge.

Over 250 residents met at the park Thursday night for the ice cream social. Children played on the park’s new jungle gym, a state of the art kids play center set atop a base of squishy-feeling, bright blue, kid-friendly padding. The addition gives kids several options for playing and climbing. And nearby benches under a sail-like canopy give parents a place to watch in comfort.

But what is next for the long skinny park that runs along the railroad tracks at the eastern edge lisa schmidt lawof the city?

Inside a tent at the ice cream social, facilitators from Living Lab listened to residents talk about their park and what was important to them. Along the back of the tent, people hung ideas on clotheslines.

Amber Herrick wrote down a couple of wishes. One for a running path through the park and the other for something for kids aged 9-15. “The new structure is good for small children, but what about the bigger kids,” Herrick said. “I wish there were better sports facilities for them.”

Several people agreed with Herrick that a path would make the park better. “We avoid the park when we run at night,” she said. “It’s dark and you can’t see the ground. And in winter there should be a way through,” Herrick said.baby01

Sharon Barrett hoped for something nostalgic. “I’d like a viewing platform to see the train. There used to be a tall slide here, and when the trains would come we’d climb to the top to see them.”

Others wanted to see water features, a pavilion, a workout area, improvements to Flynn Field, cleaning up the DPW area and many more.  Some called for environmental awareness as parks planning moves forward.

The suggestions were just the start of an intensive five day program for residents, with different focus groups and projects under the guidance of Living Lab. For about $20,000 the city was able to bring in the team of experts with knowledge in planning, parks, budgets, and working with community members on having productive discussions.

“They basically eat, sleep. live, breathe Pleasant Ridge for almost a week,” said City Manager royal_servicesJames Breuckman. “Something like this would take at least six months if we tried to facilitate it on our own.”

Courtney Piotrowski of Living Lab said one thing that makes their process work is they do more than just take ideas, they keep the discussion realistic. “It’s all grounded in the realities of budgets,” Piotrowski said.

The consultants travel all over the state facilitating similar discussions. “It’s like a mobile lab. We bring our office to communities and focus on them.”

Breuckman, who has called Pleasant Ridge home long before taking the top spot there, said he loves being in a community where people are so engaged. “I’m just as excited as everyone else to Pledge_side_bluesee what comes out of this.”

The process continues Monday and Tuesday, with the following sessions held at Gainsboro Park.

Monday, July 20, 4-6pm – Prioritization Pit Stop – Stop by on your way home from work or after dinner to spend a few minutes reviewing the drawings for the park as they begin to emerge. You will have the opportunity to provide input on which programming and look/feel options for the space you prefer.

Tuesday, July 21, 7-8:30pm – Community Celebration – Join us for the initial presentation of the draft plan that incorporates all of the input gained during the 5-day event. Refreshments will be served.

For more information check out the mobileLAB Information Sheet.

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