SHERIDAN — A pair of landscape architects are taking locals’ input from a packed week of meetings to lay the groundwork for a 30-year master plan for Kendrick Park.
The city is using a $40,000 grant it received two years ago from the Office of State Lands and Investments to hire Russell + Mills Studios.
The Fort Collins, Colorado, firm has done other projects in Sheridan, including drawing up master plans for Thorne-Rider and South parks.
After a series of public meetings, votes on different iterations of the plan and input from more than a dozen stakeholder organizations, such as the Sheridan Recreation District and Heritage Towers, the city now has a rough sketch of what park-goers want the place to look like over the next three decades.
The preliminary plan calls for separate pedestrian and traffic lanes, with cars using just the back portion of the paved loop, closest to the hill leading up to Sheridan Junior High School. The front portion, closest to Big Goose Creek, will be used for foot traffic only. Parents had expressed concern that kids weren’t safe playing with cars in the same area.
The new plan will also call for opening up access to Big Goose Creek, removing some of the vegetation along one of the banks and building a small deck with picnic tables overlooking the creek.
Other additions include wheelchair-accessible restrooms near the bandshell, a new playground and concession stand at the pool and a bouldering wall for older kids.
Meeting participants also wanted a pathway around the elk and bison pasture and a viewing area that juts into the pasture so people can get a closer look at the animals.
Overall, however, the general consensus was to avoid making too many changes.
“People have really stressed that it should be a passive, kind of tranquil park,” landscape architect Craig Russell said. “That’s kind of a unanimous thing from everybody: We don’t want too much activity or too many elements in the park.”
Some residents had thrown out ideas like installing a second ice cream stand or a mini golf area. Those were voted down.
But Mathers Heuck, operations superintendent for the city, stressed that the plan is driven by input from residents and that even now, after a week of meetings, the plan is not yet finalized.
“The whole goal is that it comes from the public,” Heuck said. “So the last thing we want is staff in a room saying, ‘This is what we’re going to build.’ We want the public to tell us what they want.”
The landscape architects will take a few months to finalize the master plan, which will then gradually be implemented — the same way the city or county implement their land use or city planning designs.
More than just a blueprint for the park’s future, the master plan will serve as a tool for securing funding for the projects outlined in the plan. Heuck said that in general, cities have better odds when applying for grants that feed into a master plan, rather than for grants that would be used to fund standalone projects.
Russell, the Colorado landscape architect in charge of the project, has done several projects in Sheridan. He said the town is a little different from other places he’s worked.
“It’s a really engaged community, overall. We’re always surprised at the turnout,” he said. “But, I think everybody sees this as Sheridan’s Central Park.”