Wednesday, September 22, 2004

New approach suggested for meadow park

Express Staff Writer

A less ambitious plan for transforming a vacant five-acre Sun Valley Resort parcel into a useful public park was unveiled Thursday, Sept. 16, by landscape designer Doug Clemens for the Sun Valley City Council.

Clemens, who voluntarily drafted the plan at no costs for the plot on Sun Valley Road adjoining Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, told the council that the park would rely on nearly some 100 trees to create its theme.

He said that he believes he can obtain all the initial plantings of a variety of trees--such as ash, poplar, fruit trees, birch, evergreen aspen and crab apple--at no cost from area landscapers.

But he said the plantings should be done before winter, thus requiring a decision from the council on whether to proceed. The property already has an irrigation system.

In Clemens? presentation, he stressed that in its basic state, the park could be a restful place for visitors and workers to have brown bag lunches. In other uses, Clemens envisioned arts and crafts fairs and performing arts events.

The five acres were donated to the city by the Sun Valley Resort.

Last year, a more ambitious and costlier plan for the land proposed by arts activist Dan Drackett received a cold shoulder. At a cost of several million dollars, Drackett and his group proposed an arts and culture complex of structures as well as underground parking.

Sun Valley council members Ann Agnew and Lud Renick will now meet with various community arts ands civic groups for reaction and then report back to the council.

In the Clemens schematic, he also included 53 parking places behind the fence on Sun Valley Road, a rest room facility at the rear of the plot, a maintenance shack and an open amphitheater with seating on a grassy, sloped area at the back of the land.

He included a round bandstand 30 feet in diameter at the center of the property.

After unveiling the basic plan with trees arranged irregularly on the property, Clemens, who has designed land use and landscaping for major projects in this area, added a tissue overlay that showed a meandering path around the property and scores of 10-by-10-foot plots for booths for a ?street fair.?

The entire property would remain in grass, four to six inches high, Clemens said. Only the open amphitheater area would be mowed shorter.

?This is a first cut; pick at it,? Clemens said of his proposal.

Agnew said Sue Bridgman, who provides floral materials for the annual Allen & Co. media conference, already has offered 15 silver poplar trees.

Agnew said that it?s urgent for the city to make the decision to plant the trees now, so they can be adequately watered and take root before winter.

?I can?t imagine any objections? to the plan, Agnew said.

?This can be done for very little money,? Renick said. ?Let?s get this thing started. Let?s move ahead. Nothing will be done that can?t be undone? if the plan later is found lacking, he added.

The only objection to the plan was voiced by civic activist Karen Reinheimer, who said the plan should include an area set aside strictly for use by children.

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