The public is invited to weigh in on a new design for Soldotna's premier park in the heart of town on the banks of the Kenai River.
Known to many as "DOT Park" because of the land's prior use as the Sterling Highway headquarters for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Soldotna Creek Park is on the docket for a major face lift in order to make it more suitable for large family gatherings and other big events.
The city has contracted with Casey Planning and Design to come up with a conceptual design for the park, and the firm would like to hear from Soldotna residents during an idea gathering session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 20, in Soldotna City Hall.
"We have some preliminary ideas," said Nancy Casey, a licensed landscape architect. "We know a (permanent) restroom is badly needed and there are parking issues, especially during large events.
"We want to hear from the public, to find out what would be the most versatile use of the park," she said.
In a printed statement, Casey said discussions will revolve around how the park should be developed, what amenities it should contain, what the character and function of the park should be and how it will connect with surrounding facilities.
After receiving public input at the September meeting, Casey Design will conduct another public meeting Oct. 25 to present its conceptual design alternatives for Soldotna Creek Park and adjacent areas and to provide opportunities for the public to review drawings, ask questions and provide input on the alternatives. That meeting also will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in City Hall.
Casey said a permanent pavilion will be considered and "there has been talk about the need for a band stand because a lot of events have live music."
"We're gathering history looking at what's been mentioned in the past," she said.
Following the two public meetings, Casey Design will present the final design for approval to the Soldotna City Council at its Nov. 14 meeting.
"If people are unable to attend the meetings, there's a questionnaire they can fill out at the (Soldotna) Chamber of Commerce, at City Hall, at the Sports Center, the library and at Kaladi's (coffee shop)," she said.
Previously, Casey Design has worked with Central Peninsula Hospital on design and renderings of its planned healing garden and labyrinth and with the city Homer on its scenic byway project.
Casey also has designed parks in Minnesota and did the school site design for Orion Elementary School in Anchorage, including remapping the school bus circulation system, playground design and redesign of the building's entry.
"I do a bit of everything," said Casey. "I enjoy finding a common ground among people."
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