May 22, 2022 Listening Session: Memorial Park Master Plan

What happened?

  • Mayor Newhard opened the session with a history of the park and by sharing images from the initial 1920’s plan! You can view example images here.
  • Mayor Newhard facilitated a “talking tour” of the park by walking through the park’s current features
  • Trustee Foster then facilitated the listening session by:
    • Inviting participants to provide written and verbal feedback on a series of questions
    • Written feedback:
      • Sharing a map of the existing park that participants could write their ideas on and share.
        • Providing crayons and maps to children in attendance for their ideas
      • Placing posters with questions on easels
        • Providing markers, pens, post-its, and sticky dots for participants to share feedback
        • Inviting participants to add sticky dots to feedback others had provided that they agreed with
    • Written feedback:
      • Walking through each of the questions and listening to / discussing input with the group
  • Trustees Bachman and McKnight also attended and participated in the session.
  • Approximately 30 people attended the session across a mix of age groups and interests.

Below is a report out and images of the feedback from the session. Please feel free to share your own thoughts on this topic and others in the suggestion box at Village Hall or in the Virtual suggestion box.

What did we hear?

Current Park

How is the park used now?

Participants expressed that the park is currently used now predominantly for team sports like baseball, softball, and football, as well as for running, biking, and walking. Kayakers also use the park and some participants exercise under the pavilion.

What’s working?

Participants expressed that the park feels safe for strollers, children, and seniors and that they love the presence of nature on three sides of the park. The unstructured open space that is present is valuable alongside the presence of team sports and baseball. Participants expressed a love for the park and the perception that the park is well maintained.

What’s not working?

Some participants expressed a perception that there’s not much to do besides team sports. Several also expressed the need for increased restroom access and clearing for kayaks.

Does the park seem accessible to all? Why or why not?

Some participants expressed that there is a need for increased intergenerational mingling at the park and the perception that the park is currently only for residents of certain neighborhoods or for team sports. Others expressed that the park is not accessible for disabled community members or for small children. Others expressed the need to make it safe to bike to the park, speaking to a broader challenge of road, bicycle, and pedestrian safety in the Village that may make the park feel inaccessible without having a car.

Future Park

How would you like to use or see the park used in the future?

Participants expressed a need for continued balance within the park between structured (e.g., a ball field or pump track) and unstructured (e.g., open space) activities. Almost everyone expressed a need to lean into access to nature and to manage vehicular traffic in and around the park. Some specific ideas participants shared were a heart trail or interactive exercise walking path.

Participants provided mixed feedback on having a pump track; this topic is a source of healthy tension in the community. There were several verbal opponents to the pump track from the neighboring Warwick Grove, as well as verbal proponents from the Lions Club and some residents. Multiple participants expressed support for the pump track in writing. This topic, in particular, demonstrated the importance of having opportunities to both provide verbal and written feedback and to engaging input from people across different backgrounds, interests, and age groups. The same tension around the pump track seemed present relative to the skate park. The group was able to discuss constructively that there is a need to accommodate the activities and needs of all age groups in our public spaces, and this points to the need for continued dialogue with residents from multiple perspectives present.

Several participants asked for concerts and community events in the park, while others pointed out the need to balance the noise and activity for the benefit of nearby residents. This need for awareness and consideration seemed generally agreed upon by participants. Multiple participants provided in writing a preference for ice skating opportunities in winter. One resident asked that there be a permanent moratorium on any new development in the park that does not enhance its natural beauty. The board responded that the master planning process would affect to a temporary moratorium on decisions but after that decisions would be made in alignment with the master plan.

How do you want to feel when you’re in the park?

Participants expressed a need to feel happy safe comfortable in the park expressed a desire for balance between areas for intense activity and areas for quiet, particularly noting the need to maintain a feeling of somber gratitude, in the words of one participant, at the opening of the park where the veterans memorial stands.

What access, amenities, or improvements are needed?

Participants seemed to largely agree on the need for increased bathroom access. Other ideas included a need to manage parking so it’s not as centered in the park, with a suggestion to move it to a part of th perimeter, to add a dog park, a lending shed where recreational equipment could be checked out, increased trash receptacles, as well as more activities in the form of kayak launch, tetherball, playground access, hopscotch, and pickleball. Participants also asked for features that would include or increase the walkability such as more benches and seating areas, a boardwalk through the marsh, and a town garden. Participants also asked for sidewalk improvements and improvements that would increase the walkability and bikeability to the park. Some participants suggested a stage area for events. Participants had a discussion about the natural playground at the Community Center and how a feature like that could be really beneficial and complementary for the nature-based feel of the park.

Who should be on the stakeholder advisory group?

Mayor Newhard and Trustee Foster explained the Village’s intent to ensure representation by a variety of age groups, by the various interests, cultures, and demographics in our community, as well as by organizations currently using the park, adjacent neighborhoods, and various recreational groups. Participants expressed the need to include representatives from neighbors like the Library, Warwick Grove, and Homestead Village, from all age groups, Veterans, from non-profit community groups, especially those offering funding to support parks and recreation, and from sports and recreation groups, such as the team sports, kayaking, skating, and cycling communities.

Any other feedback?

Participants also provided feedback that was relevant to the broader village recreational needs, for example:

  • Things participants love or appreciate:
    • The nature playground at the Community Center is a valuable asset
    • Good maintenance of our park spaces by DPW
    • Beneficial reuse of materials by DPW to reduce waste and cost
  • Changes requested:
    • Continue the kayaking path and ensure that the path is clear and safe
    • Have concert areas where kids can play openly
    • Allow voters in the Village to vote to approve the final plan (please note that the final plan will be voted and approved upon by the Village Board in accordance with typical process and government standards)
    • Add a note outlet sign at the opening of the park
    • Think about and be mindful of potential changes in popularity of certain activities over time when making investments
    • Address road safety needs and speeding along McFarland and Forester
    • Consider crowd and traffic control with events
    • Improve walkability and bikeability throughout the Village
    • Consider additional partnerships, such as with the Town of Warwick, the County, and nonprofits for broader recreational needs
    •  Consider long term maintenance needs and source of funding when making any decisions