Thursday, February 5, 2009

Committee unveils design

 Bolinas’ Downtown Park Committee will unveil its draft plan for the development of the vacant lot on Wharf Road, currently known to locals as Burnt Park, at the Community Center Sunday, February 8 at 4:00 pm.
“After going through various incarnations,” says Downtown Park Committee member Jack Siedman, “this is what we have come up with.” The committee solicited public input at a well-attended meeting in the Fall of 2007, then distilled the ideas amongst themselves before approaching Alethia Patton, local designer, with the list of elements they wanted to include in the park.

Park Components
Patton’s design schematics include a quartered off children’s play area, a low-lying stone barrier or “rock garden” along Wharf frontage with an open arbor, a curvaceous burmed park perimeter, flat open grassy areas, a stone labyrinth inlay across the girth of the green, a Boche Ball court, a restroom, a service access driveway, and small handicapped parking area.
Water Catchment System in the Natural Landscape
In discussing a green lawn and minimal water issues, Patton brought up the idea of moving the park toward vegetation sustainability.  The group widely accepted the idea of a water catchment system where runoff from the Little Mesa slope could be channeled against a series of natural rock retaining walls. The stone structure would also serve as a climbing surface and a seating area.  A deck at the base of the hill would conceal the partially underground cistern that can hold up to 18,000 gallons of water.  Patton’s plan includes an overflow system that would divert excess runoff into a slightly depressed area where sedges and other water loving plants would help with the dissipation, easing the impact on the town’s storm-water drainage system.  Native plants would comprise most of the parks landscape, providing the park with a drought resistant, low maintenance, ecological scheme year round.  From the central lawn, “bench high curved stone retaining walls would follow the natural contours of the site as it slopes upward toward the hill,” Patton explained. 
“Less is more, has been our theme all along, ” says Siedman.  The committee doesn’t want to fill-up the park, but rather keep it open and spacious–allowing park usage to point the direction for further development of the space. “It will become apparent what the community needs.” In accordance with this principal, Patton says she would like to refrain from paving a path through the park, “allowing people to find their own path” and later add some soft or hardscape to accommodate the natural flow of foot traffic.
Patton hopes that the entire community will take part in the different phases of construction, but has approached a few community members in the building trades about overseeing some of aspects of the project to achieve an “over arching aesthetic.”
The next stage in the planning process after Sunday’s presentation to the Bolinas community is to begin talks with county planning and retain the services of a civil engineer, says Siedman.  An engineer is needed to shore up calculations for the burms and other fill before submitting plans to the county for approval.  Before plans are brought before the county the committee hopes to retain Patton’s services as well, naming her as project manager, to date, she has donated over 100 hours of her time and services to the project. 

Burnt Park Lots Donated to the Community
A little over two years ago a couple, who wishes to remain anonymous, heard that the downtown properties were on the market.  After some consideration, the two approached a local realtor with the idea of turning the lots into a park and inquired as to how they could go about it.  The couple was referred to Mesa Park board, the governing entity for the town of Bolinas’ only community owned park.  The Boards Chairman, Jack Seidman welcomed the idea and put things into motion.  In addition to covering the initial cost of purchasing the three parcels designated for the new park, the donors have agreed to provide some additional funding to help cover the costs of construction.