Residents Hear Park Plan Details

The Waynesboro Department of Parks & Recreation, alongside McCormick Taylor Inc. and Land Planning & Design Associates Inc., hosted a public information session to receive comments on the proposed master plan for Constitution Park on Wednesday afternoon.

The design team was in attendance, as were city officials, who received written comments from locals. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers on Main Street, plans about the green space, better connection to downtown, festival space, removal of the pavilion and more were discussed.

“We’ve heard lots of different comments,” Dwayne Jones, the director of Parks and Recreation, said. “The thing we like to encourage and focus on is, we have big plans …. We think it’s great. We wanted a relaxed atmosphere so folks can come in, tell us their concerns … We will take all those comments and pull all the information together after the meeting.”

Jim Shaw, deputy city manager, was in attendance and felt that it was a worthwhile experience for all involved.

“I think that there are a lot of people who are just curious and happy to see the park renovation,” Shaw said. “They see what we have done with the green way, the pavilion on the other side of the park … They are excited to see that continuation … You never know where a good idea is going to come from … We are looking for relevant input. You look and see what most people think. You feel like it’s a democratic process, you should try and incorporate some of that stuff.”

Plans call for dirt to begin being moved in 2014. Jones expects the project to be complete in 2015. Now, while excitement grows for this new-look Waynesboro, there are major concerns. The most massive counter-argument to the plans is the taking down of the pavilion, which will dig into funds for the project. Jim Coate, the manager of the Waynesboro Farmers Market, is one of the more concerned locals.

“I’ve heard a number of people say that the timeline is messed up, to use limited funds to take down something. It leaves us kind of in limbo,” Coate said. “In theory, we could use pop-up tents out in the parking lot, but it’s not a real exciting solution. Being a smaller market, it’s a little harder getting the critical mass to keep doing it … I’m hopeful it could at least stay to get through whatever the transition is. One thing they didn’t put out is the phase timeline.”

Jones understands the concerns of Coate and others, but he insists there is one common goal.

“We want the Farmers Market to be successful,” Jones said, citing how Staunton and Charlottesville implement a parking lot market.

Moving forward, all of the comments will be analyzed and discussed, says Shaw. For Jones, all he wants is a bigger, better park, one that will attract more events and people to the park. Wednesday was just another step in the process.

“We hope that if we make the improvements to the park, something else shows up,” Jones said. “What we are trying to do is create is a signature park along the river. It’s not only the gateway into downtown, but we see it as a great park because we are fortunate to have lots of festivals in Waynesboro. We think it can only be better, bigger…We really want folks’ input. It is conceptual at this point. It’s not in concrete.”

Reprinted from the January 24, 2013 News Virginian