The City Council approved the acquisition of the 60-acre Underwood Parcel that fronts on both Spear Street and Nowland Farm Road in 2013. At that point, the City undertook a visioning process in 2015 to explore the community’s interests in the parcel and establish common goals for the property. This process highlighted three primary uses for the park: natural resource conservation, agriculture, and recreation. When the visioning work was completed, the City then embarked on the Master Planning process for the parcel in 2017. The goal was to provide a comprehensive plan for development of the park, while maintaining an inclusive process that integrated public input. The final Master Plan considered the following: strategic programming, park character, organizing principles of the site plan, conceptual building design, cost estimates, phasing strategies, and potential permits necessary to move elements towards construction.
In early 2020, the City initiated design of the shared use path connecting users to Nowland Farm Road that was identified during the Master Planning process. This project is still ongoing and is at about the 30-60% design. At this time, conceptual work was also done for the layout of the viewing area, on-site parking, and pedestrian connections. Staff have also engaged consultants in wetland delineation work, invasive plant removal, trail assessment/planning for the existing network of trails, and an ecological assessment.
In the fall of 2020, Staff identified the need to separate the design of the viewing area, on-site parking, and associated pedestrian connectivity from the shared use path design. An RFP was released in October 2020 to search for a consultant to design these specific elements. Staff are in the process of reviewing these designs and is hopeful to forward a project consultant contract to the City Council for their consideration and potential approval at their February 1st meeting. We are looking forward to seeing the next steps of this design phase soon.