by Frederica Merrell
(Editor’s note: Frederica Merrell reports from last night’s well-attended Jefferson Park expansion meeting.)
Wow! I counted over 115 people in that room (don’t tell the Fire Department). Tonight people filled the chairs, stood all around walls, and spilled into the hall of the Beacon Library meeting room to talk about construction at Jefferson Park. As some of us said afterward, “geez, I guess we need a new library too!” (just kidding)
Parks Department had a lot of good info, including three options (A, B, C) for bundles of projects at Jefferson. I really hope they put it all up on their website soon so people can see the options. Parks wants people to fill out a form of low, medium, high, priorities for about ten recommendations. I don’t know whether this can be done online or not. (There’s nothing on the Parks site about this, at least not yet. — Ed.) They also will just take input from your perspective about whatever you are interested in. (See list of projects below and/or email Parks Department Project Manager Kim Baldwin).
Of those 115 people, I estimate 6 were city staff and 4 were city consultants. The highest Parks staffer was Kevin Stoops, who is the Superintendent’s right-hand man. Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher told me he couldn’t come, regrettably because it was his turn to host the local VW Van Club meeting (Cool!). Back to the demographics, about 18 or so folks were advocates for soccer fields, at least some of whom were from the Beacon Hill community. Another 15 or so, all Beaconites, were from the Jefferson Park Alliance (including me). The majority of locals had no group affiliations. The public question and speaking time was short for that many people, only about 40 minutes. I think most people walked out partially informed.
On the synthetic soccer field issue, Kevin Stoops addressed the issue of why there is no synth turf at Jefferson. Basically it comes down to lights. For several reasons that weigh heavily, lights have been axed from the picture at Jefferson: cost, environmental impact (views), technical difficulty of sinking poles into reservoirs, and limited electric utility may all be part of the picture on that decision. Without lights, no synth turf. Soccer fans are an enthusiastic bunch, though perhaps a bit deaf, and they keep coming back to argue about it. I just wish we didn’t spend so much time talking about something that is already decided and adopted into law. The Parks Board already decided this issue and the City Council passed view protection legislation two months ago at Jefferson. There will never be light poles over the reservoirs. The views are just too magnificent for that.
Other questions/areas of discussion: planning for the orchard/farm p-patch on 15th Ave. S., why we have asphalt paths instead of concrete (money), getting Beacon Mountain Playground built in Phase I so they don’t come back and tear the area up later, refurbishing Jefferson field, adding picnic grounds, siting a second basketball court, and maintenance costs.
Overall, it was a great meeting and I left with tears in my eyes realizing it is finally going to get built and we are so lucky!
Click to see the list of projects
Parks wants to know what you think is important or not:
- Parking expansion at Community Center
- A second Basketball court
- Plaza and water feature
- Walking promenade extension to Asa Mercer
- Complete pedestrian lighting
- Picnic shelters
- Jefferson playfield
- Open Hort facility parking area to public (Dakota Street parking)
- Develop the terrace (15th Avenue west side of park: orchard, farm, p-patch, urban agriculture project)
- Perimeter paths with trees (streetscape)
- Beacon Mountain play area Phase I
- Beacon Mountain play area full build
What are these exactly? Some of these are well developed, like the Beacon Mountain, and others are just ideas without clear definition. We have to keep working the plans on each to bring projects to fruition. Read about the Beacon Mountain Playground and see the design here — this is a community generated project.
Send your input to Parks Department Project Manager Kim Baldwin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Come to the North Beacon Hill Planning meeting on May 30th at El Centro for more big ideas!
Thank you very much for the report, Freddie!