Citizens speak out about Southport Park
The SAA Design Group and Engberg Anderson hosted the first of two public information meetings earlier tonight at the Southport Beach House. About sixty people were in attendance to give their input on Southport Park, including city staff, several alderpersons, and the former mayor, John Antaramian. The SAA Design Group is a landscape architectural firm based in Madison. They have been commissioned to conduct a study on the park and develop a master plan for the park. According to Mike Lemens, the city of Kenosha’s director of public works, “this is the first step in the process in order to be able to apply for grants.”
Blake Theisen, one of SAA Design Group associates/landscape architects/park planners, opened the meeting and made the introductions. “We are here with open minds, no pre-conceived notions. We’re here to listen. This is the first in a series of two meetings. The same type of meeting will be conducted next Wednesday night, at the Northside Library. It will be interesting to see whether we get the same kind of responses from that group as we get here tonight. We have been conducting stakeholder interviews with alderpersons and other user groups. We have to remember, though, that we are looking beyond the walls of this building, to the Southport Beach Park. I’m already receiving e-mails with a lot of positive energy. When these two meetings are completed, we will return the early part of November with a site analysis.”
Theisen then led the group through a series of exercises. On the back of the agenda were a series of questions that the participants were asked to answer:
List 3 things that you like about the Southport Park property that should be preserved/enhanced. What makes this area special?
List 3 concerns/issues that you have about the area/site that should be addressed.
What is your vision for Southport Park in future years? What improvements should be made in terms of:
- Land Use and Activities (Active uses? Passive uses?)
- Opportunities (Programming? Spatial relationships? Connectivity?)
- Building Use/Re-use
Then, each participant was given eight red stickers and eight green stickers and asked to place two red stickers and two green stickers on each of the four boards around the room, which depicted various uses for the park.
Here are pictures of the four boards with no dots added:
And here are pictures of the four boards with the dots added:
After the participants were finished with the dots exercise, they were then numbered off into one of four groups to discuss their answers to the questions in Exercise 1 and 2. Each group then gave a summary report of the participants’ replies. Here is a picture of one of the charts on which the notes were taken. This is the summary of Group 2:
In summary, the participants would like to see the building rehabilitated, the facilities upgraded, a variety of multi-generational educational programming added, improved access to the water, the possible addition of seasonal concessions, more opportunities for picnic areas, a possible off-leash, fenced-in dog park, a playground upgrade, and at the same time, maintain the general character of the building and the passive uses of the park.
The replacement of over eighty trees which were lost in last year’s storm was another idea that came up more than once. Basically, the main theme was that this building and this park are a great asset, they need some tender, loving care, and some polish to let things shine.
The last five minutes of the meeting were allowed for general comments and questions. Margaret Heller expressed concern that what was discussed in the four groups was not what was summarized at the end. She suggested that members of the various groups give the summary report at the next meeting. Ellen Ferwerda asked about grant funding. Another woman suggested that, instead of using the phrase “aggressive marketing,” that the “promotion” of the building/park be pursued throughout the city.
Lou Rugani stated that an artistic director is missing from this whole project. He talked about the polychrome being covered with white paint, the lighting fixtures being replaced with what looked like WalMart specials, and the original chandelier being removed. He stated that he wants to donate a chandelier. Lemens cut him off due to the lateness of the hour, and he then suggested that Rugani come to the meeting next week to continue his commentary.