MONTPELIER — Three conceptual designs for a proposed Confluence Park in the Capital City were presented to Montpelier City Council this week.
The park is part of the Taylor Street transit center and housing complex project that is due to be completed in the spring.
The Confluence Park would be a city project in association with the Vermont River Conservancy, an advocacy group for riverfront restoration and clean water initiatives. The park was first proposed in the 1999 Capital District Master Plan as part of a larger-scale riverfront park development that was influenced by earlier city studies — Montpelier Rivers Report and River Visions — dating back to 1995.
It was further supported by the last year’s Team Bridges’ winning Net Zero design contest that proposed a mix of residential, retail and commercial development and open space to create a new riverfront district in the city. Research into potential use of the site as a park is funded in part by a $125,000 grant from Canaday Family Charitable Trust.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, representatives of VRC and Waterbury landscape architects Milone & McBroom presented a study with three different designs for a riverfront park on the Taylor Street project site.
Key elements that public input identified as important to the design included: access to the river for fishing and boating; balanced with other uses on the site, such as the recreation path and access for people with disabilities. Other requests included addressing environmental concerns about water quality, stormwater runoff and flood resilience of the site in the floodplain. Broad areas to consider for the site included landscaping – seating areas, trees and vegetation, shelters and picnic tables, year-round usability and play opportunities.
Public input also called for public art; bike racks; interpretative signage; incorporating the history of the site; and connectivity to the rest of the city, the North Branch river and other city parks. Spiritual elements proposed included incorporating Abenaki Native-American history, a standing stone circle and a labyrinth of paths.
The three designs proposed included:
— Concept A (called Performance Park) calls for a 380-square-foot pavilion with stepped seating and a 2,800-square-foot performance space; an integrated, uninterrupted recreation path running through the site; a large, accessible river overlook; and river access for fishing and boating.
— Concept B (Heritage Park) features a 2,400-square-foot central plaza with abundant seating; an integrated recreation path into the plaza; two accessible river overlooks and a fishing platform; and river access for fishing and boating.
— Concept C (Riverine Pockets Park) separates the recreation path and the riverfront park; provides two accessible overlooks and a fishing platform; and access to the river for fishing and boating.
According to a score chart during public input on the three options, Concept B received the highest marks for design, complexity and expected cost, followed by Concept A and Concept C, although the score tallies were close.
Councilors welcomed the design concepts to review and discuss at a later council meeting.