BY HOLLY BREVIG — If you could plan your own park, what would it look like?
On Jan. 9, the city held a community design workshop for Hyatt Park to find out what residents would like to see in the western section of the park, which is currently an open, grassy area. City staff wanted to hear what the community would dream for the park, including the style, colors, and landscaping of the area.
Hyatt Park was renovated in 2014, with new equipment provided by a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Community Park and Playgrounds Grant program.
The city received a $75,000 grant from the State of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which will be used for the project. The remaining cost of the project will come from city funds. City council has authorized up to $325,000 for the project, with $50,000 of that coming from the FY2018 CIP, which included funding for park improvements.
Jim Chandler, director of Community and Economic Development, told residents at the meeting that the city wanted to hear what sort of elements they’d like to see in the park in the future, to help staff get a sense of what residents are looking for in the park, such as experiences that aren’t there right now. “The city’s goal is to deliver a project that the city is excited about … [to] create a space that the community values,” Chandler said.
Staff from the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) then led attendees through the interactive exercises that guided discussions on reprogramming Hyatt Park. Attendees worked in small groups to brainstorm and document what Hyatt Park would look like in different scenarios, such as if Hyatt Park was a Trip Advisor destination, a children’s birthday party location, or if Dr. Seuss was the director of parks and recreation. After the exercise, NDC staff had attendees share what Hyatt Park would look like in the different scenarios to the larger group.
Some of the things residents wished for: bathroom facilities, a stage for music or performances, an artistic centerpiece, ping pong, a pet area, an expanded community garden, a water element, or an outdoor physics lab, just to name a few.
Attendees were then asked to list how Hyatt Park could be used by different sized groups of people and to rank certain design aspects of the park, such as bike racks, seating, entertainment stage, etc. Attendees were also asked to provide feedback on the importance of the park style, such as neutral versus colorful or man-made/constructed versus natural. Residents picked photos that aligned with their desired design aspects and style of the park. The mood of the event was interested, engaged, and fun.
The plan is for NDC to use feedback gathered from the workshop at the Speak Up HVL website to create two different concepts. Community Planner Katie Gerbes said that staff hopes to determine which of the two concepts to move forward with within a month. The tentative schedule would have staff bringing the concepts to the public in late February, with a decision made in early March. From there, staff would begin the process of getting permits and sourcing equipment.
“We’re hoping to do most of the work over the summer, so this area would be complete and open to the public before the close of the calendar year 2018,” Gerbes said. “We’re soliciting feedback on Speak Up, so that’s a great opportunity for folks not at the meeting to contribute thoughts and ideas.”
To give your opinions about the Hyatt Park space, visit Speak Up HVL by Jan. 24.