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Friday, November 27, 2015

    More than 50 people attended a meeting held by the city on March 2 to present the results of public input received for the new 6.63-acre public park along the northern downtown riverfront. 
From May-December 2014, the city asked citizens for input about what they would like to see at the park. In all, 1,400 comments were received from public meetings, presentations, events, community centers, an online survey and social media. The city will now begin developing a master plan for the park that will be used to help seek park funding. 

Additional open space is a top priority in the city’s park master plan and was the number one recommendation in the city’s Vision 2020 plan that outlines a plan for downtown development. “The lack of downtown parks and open space has a critical impact on the urban environment. Without inviting recreation opportunities or public gathering places, the reasons for visiting or staying downtown are reduced for both local residents and tourists,” the plan states. 

In addition, the current proposal to redevelop the site of the Water Street deck is consistent with the Vision 20/20 plan. The plan characterizes the site as a “critical opportunity for redevelopment as a vibrant mixed-use project to activate the waterfront” and repeatedly expresses a need for more permanent downtown residents, especially “young families, professionals, and empty nesters.” 
Next steps
The next step in the process is to develop a master plan based on the goals of the park, public input, adopted plans, and successful designs from other urban parks. The master plan will include the history of the site, environmental conditions, surrounding development, appropriate activities, management strategy and will outline opportunities for potential sponsorships. The plan will be used to help identify funding for the park. 

Once funding for the park design has been secured, the city will seek more public input. The vision for the North Waterfront Park is that it becomes the intensely-used, vibrant and lush heart of the city. The city expects the community to be the expert that refines the vision with leaders and professionals helping to implement the vision.

The City will look to partner with area organizations to host “pop-up” events on the undeveloped site until funding for the park is obtained.
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