A recent city online survey regarding best use of possible park space in downtown Gardner has garnered more than 500 responses.
The survey was primarily a “sliding scale” asking respondents to rate suggested desired park amenities in the eight block downtown area. Focus is on an eight-block area of downtown bounded by S Center Street on the west, E. Washington Street on the north, S. Sycamore Street on the east, and E. Warren Street on the south.
According to Kelly Woodward, Gardner chief planner, the Gardner Main Street Corridor Plan showed two potential new civic greens flanking City Hall on the north and south sides, creating a link between the myriad of civic uses downtown, such as the public library, churches, park, fairgrounds, city offices and schools.
“The potential civic spaces are owned by various entities, but are not currently in public ownership. These spaces would only be developed as a civic amenity with the participation and consent of the land owners,” she said.
The city of Gardner will not purchase additional property.
“The city would consider options such as partnerships and agreements to create a win/win situation for everyone involved,” Woodward said.
The planned new park spaces include adjacent parking, she said. “In the preliminary plan, the parks were designed to maintain the current number of parking spaces in a reconfigured design (or even add a few spaces).”
The survey was designed by a consulting team, which is the same team that created the Gardner Main Street Corridor Plan – Confluence, in consultation with city staff.
These results, along with the work of the citizen committees, stakeholder meetings, and open community meetings, will be used to inform the alternative conceptual designs developed by the planning team, Woodward said.
Designs will include plan sketches and 3D conceptual models of the spaces, ideas for how the spaces can function, recommended amenities, and planned connections with adjacent spaces, she continued.
Along with conceptual designs for the planned civic spaces, the team will be presenting a series of streetscape plans for the public spaces along all streets in the study area.
“This will include typical illustrative cross-sections of the pedestrian and vehicular spaces, suitable landscaping, traffic control recommendations, bicycle/pedestrian facilities, streetscape fixtures and furnishings, accessibility recommendations, and storm water solutions,” Woodward said. “The team will evaluate a potential mobility hub and provide public/private parking recommendations.  These concept plans will be refined to include estimates of probable construction costs.”
According to the city’s website:
Members of the public served on the Steering and Implementation Committees. Important community stakeholders including property owners, transit users, and people who travel through the study area will be engaged to ensure the concept plans are achievable. Public input meetings will be held throughout the approximately 10-month project.