Grand Park design input given at meeting - Star Local: News

Grand Park design input given at meeting

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:00 am

The Frisco City Council and its Grand Park subcommittee gave input on the look of the proposed 275-acre park's elements at a meeting Monday, the most recent step in the long-proposed park's development.

At the meeting, council and subcommittee members told the park's designers what options they liked for the park's promenade, lighting, pavement style and more. Most of the discussion centered on what elements of the park will exist in its initial phase, however, which will likely cost about $30 million.

Council and subcommittee members were presented with examples of what each proposed element could look like, along with about three options for each — such as three styles of light post, for instance.

"What you see on the maps are what you've seen that are within the budget, then we'll determine how we split it up if there's any give and take necessary [in terms of cost requirements]," said Dudley Raymond, the parks and recreation department's planning and business manager.

The topic that garnered the most discussion in terms of design was Kids Place, the playground portion of the park, which is set to include about 150 elements in Phase 1.

Many of the components of Kids Place are designed not only to be fun, but also to stimulate learning and development. A musical area, for instance, will allow children to play with several pieces of equipment that make different sounds, some of which compliment each other.

Other play structures include swings, climbing nets big enough to allow 500 children to climb on and a "nature play area" with natural elements.

In addition to the equipment, Kids Place will also include several landscape elements such as small hills, a splash area and a small creek that can be dried out in the winter for children to play in.

While council members were mostly impressed with what they saw, they did have a few suggestions. Council Member Bob Allen, for instance, didn't like that the entrance to the slide in Kids Place featured a snake's head.

"Make it a raccoon, make it a sloth — I don't care what you make it, I just don't like snakes," Allen said with a laugh.

In terms of design, the council and subcommittee agreed that granite wouldn't be effective after seeing it used around the George A. Purefoy Municipal Center.

"The granite in front of City Hall has just been a nightmare with maintenance and walking, so I'm more interested in us getting something that's easier to use and won't cause problems," Mayor Maher Maso said.

Representatives from Jacobs Engineering, the firm designing the park, agreed that granite could be a costly choice and noted that other, similar-looking materials could instead be used. In terms of appearance, a black-and-white style was preferred by council and subcommittee members.

Once the discussion turned to how much the park would cost, however, there was debate as to what features Phase 1 should include.

Some council members opposed including a festival green when the money it would cost could be used for other elements. The festival green, they said, wouldn't be as vital for the first phase as the city already has other locations where events can be hosted.

Similarly, the "split hill" at the park's entrance — a hill that would be split down the middle by the road leading into the park — was a point of debate. Council Member Scott Johnson said the park could use a notable entrance to stand out, whereas Council Member Jeff Cheney said he would prefer to use the money the hill would cost — estimated to be more than $2 million — to create interactive elements.

One area the council members did agree on was that jogging and biking trails should be created when the park first opens. The money to create those trails, however, could end up coming from the parks department's budget instead of the Grand Park budget.

All the council and subcommittee members stressed that the park needs to be memorable, however, something Jacobs Engineering's representatives agreed with.

"One of the challenges of designing this park is making sure it's grand. This will be a destination park in the Metroplex," said Randy Sorensen, a design principal for the firm. "People will go home and tell others, 'You've got to see what's at Grand Park.' We're making sure each element of the park is exciting on its own."

The next public Grand Park meeting is scheduled for the week of April 22. At that meeting, council and subcommittee members will discuss other elements of the park, including its lake, Spiral Mountain and the many shade structures that will be built.

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