Second Southport Park meeting held tonight
The SAA Design Group and Engberg Anderson hosted the second meeting for the Southport Park tonight at the northside library. About 15 citizens were in attendance, six of whom were present at the meeting last week. Alderpersons present at the meeting were G. John Ruffolo, David Bogdala, Kevin Mathewson, and Chris Schwartz. The questions asked/format of the meeting was exactly the same as the first meeting. To read the article on the first meeting, click here: Citizens Speak Out About Southport Park.
Mike Lemens, the city’s public works director, answered the question on the minds of many people: Why was this location for the second meeting chosen? The answer is two-fold: 1) To give a different perspective; and 2) When the city went through the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (CORP) and master plan process last fall, the attendance was the best on the north side. Additional factors were the expanded community room at the library, its acoustics, and lighting.
Blake Theisen, one of SAA Design Group associates/landscape architects/park planners, again made the introductions, gave the participants instructions on placing their red and green stickers on the four concept boards, and then had the participants split up into two groups for discussions.
Below are the pictures of the four boards with the stickers placed on them:
Next, the participants split up into two groups for discussion purposes. Citizens took the lead in recording and presenting the various comments from the participants.
A summary from each group is listed below:
The concensus was for a passive recreational park, the gateway to Lake Michigan. Kenoshans are not currently using Lake Michigan. This group would like to see boat rentals, beach activities such as volleyball, kayak lessons. Dog parks were not favored. This group did not feel that additional baseball or football fields were needed. A fishing pier was favored, as well as community involvement, weddings, and yoga classes to attract people to the waterfront. Concessions were favored, as well as rentals. One person mentioned the use of lockers for changing clothes. Everyone wanted an accurate restaurant of the beach house, both inside and out, including art deco coloring and lights (not the vapor gas lights). Participants wanted the fixtures to be period correct. Participants want to see an improved, multi-use building to add to the history of the city. Past memories are an important part of the city.
One participant explained his concept of creating an “incubator space” where businesses can host a wine-tasting weekend, or showcase their cheeses, etc. This would not be a permanent retail space, but a way to hold art, food, or yoga events as a draw. He stated that this was not a concensus of the group, but his own concept idea, although others did express their affinity for the idea.
Lou Rugani chimed in regarding a terrace to protect the beach house, like the one that was in place back in 1935 to 1941. He said that he would like to see this built. “It will be expensive, yes. But, it’s something we can shoot for down the line. Like Navy Pier, holding dances and fishing. It would include an ornamental railing and lights. It’s ambitious, and it would create a showpiece. Plus, it would protect the beach house from further wave action.”
The group liked the term “community center” rather than beach house. They would like to preserve the lakefront character of the park, not the addition of unnatural bells and whistles. They’d like to see a sand pit with 360 degrees of lifeguard duty. Other additions are a parking lot next to the beach, the optimization of parking spaces, and a precious outlook to lake. They’d like to see reforestation, using natural vegetation to preserve the character of the park. They’d also like landscaping around the building.
The building is seen as a community forum function, a place to meet. Weekend rentals should continue. The spokesman for the group said that he got some statistics from his alderperson which stated that there were 110 events held in 2011, bringing in a total of $23,000 in rental income, which is more than enough to maintain the building. The building is heated year-round. Improved lighting and security, bathroom access, and open areas for spontaneous recreation were other ideas mentioned. One person mentioned the inclusion of a time capsule. Monitoring the water quality of the lake front was another idea.
The citizens in Group 2 did not want a dog park; however, if dogs were allowed, additional dog bags for waste clean-up were recommended. There was an expressed hostility toward animal waste in the parks. Concessions, unstaffed rentals of bikes and skis were mentioned. Ice rinks would be easily done. A roofed shelter, and an open-air pavilion were seen as valuable additions to the park.
Another need expressed was the city actively marketing the use of the building. Another idea was to create a self-contained history center out of the building, an archive center being captured in the building. Multiple use change rooms were also mentioned, as well as signage informing people that they were entering the sand dune area.
Next Steps and Questions
Theisen stated that the next meeting will take place during the first week of November at the Southport Beach House. At that time, they will share some conceptual drawings, make a presentation, and obtain citizens’ feedback. One woman asked if approximate costs were going to be included so that priorities could be determined, and the answer was yes. The consultants will also help to identify funding sources for the work.
Another person asked how many times the concepts would be re-drawn. Theisen responded that three different concepts would be presented. Pieces of each can be mixed and matched. He stated that, for the plan for Petzke Park, three different concepts were distilled into one concept. The goal is to have the plan completed by the end of the year.
Another man asked if there was anything that the consultants were seeing that they had not mentioned. Theisen said, “Not really. I have my own thoughts, but a lot of what my ideas were were already echoed here. One thing that is important for me is the playground, with its deficient equipment. That would be a top priority for me.”
A person asked if the consultants were collecting input on the history of Kenosha as they develop their plans, and the answer was yes. Theisen’s group has done quite a bit of work here in Kenosha already. Additional stakeholder meetings are being held next week. One of the meetings is with the State Historical Society to discuss limitations, opportunities for the building, and restrictions.
Another woman asked if concepts from other communities were also being considered, and the answer was yes, again. They have heard ideas brought forward from adjacent areas.
Shelly Billingsley, director of engineering/city engineer, offered her business cards with her contact information for anyone who has ideas that they’d like to submit that might not have been mentioned tonight. Her phone number is: (262) 653-4149, and her e-mail address is: [email protected]