Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crystal City Parks: A Place Is Needed

One of the features of almost every truly great park is the presences of "places" to be- somewhere more than just a pavilion or a random bench along a path.  Places are human scale and somewhat intimate- a place to linger and enjoy just being there.  Maybe its a grotto, maybe a boathouse, maybe a quiet place off of a path where one can sit and enjoy the scenery without people running by through the view.  Places can be many things to many different people.  We've talked before about the need for a long term Park Master Plan for Crystal City's parks- the development of "places" would and should be a part of that process.  Specifically, we believe that Crystal City's Municipal Park has an ideal location for the development of a "place" within the next few years!

Our proposal:  We believe that the Crystal City Parks Department should renovate, restore, and upgrade the waterfall pond in the North section of the Municipal Park and establish it as a "place" for the enjoyment of all of Crystal City.

(For an excellent example of creating a "place" check out this post from the St. Louis Urban Workshop about ongoing projects in Forest Park.)

The waterfall has, sadly,  not operated since Bill Bradley announced his run for President in 1999.  We believe that the City has, either on staff or volunteering, the ability to determine what work needs to be done to fix the pond and to restore its function.  If needed the pumping mechanism should be removed from the pond and placed into a pumphouse.  The pond should also be completely cleared out of all debris and restored to excellent condition.  Restoration of the waterfall is key to establishing an attractive place for people to come enjoy.


Next, the area around the pond should be landscaped to provide seating and small gathering places for picnics, small meetings, and more.  Not pavilions or tables per se, but something smaller and more intimate.  This could be accomplished with stone, wood, earth, or any combination of the three so long as the improvements are permanent, safe, and aesthetically pleasing.



Finally, with the waterfall restored and the area around it modified for regular use, a way should be prepared for people to access the new place.  Ideally this would be in the form of new sidewalks along Parkview Drive with a paved or stone trail leading from them to the waterfall.  The existing blacktop "path" is completely substandard and perhaps even dangerous to use as it currently exists:


This area of the Municipal Park is a small yet nice piece of nature in an otherwise suburban environment.  With some planning and dedication, a truly beautiful "place" can be made that everyone can enjoy.  We hope that Park officials consider something like this in their long-range plans.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more with the proposal to repair the fountain and
    reclaim the waterfall. The surrounding area is pretty much a wasteland
    now, but it could be a beautiful, restful place. I'd also like to see a
    public path to the park from the Williamsburg subdivision. As it is,
    residents cut through homeowners' yards to get to the park and pool. It
    shouldn't be this way.