In an uncharacteristic moment of follow-thru, E and I went to the Ypsi Recreation Commission meeting on Thursday. I got to see how plans for Riverside and Frog Island parks were shaping up after the design charettes earlier this month and she got to indulge her current love of civics/social studies by seeing local government "in action" (that phrase might be a bit strong for what we actually saw -- they didn't even have a quorum...).
The Riverside plan is further along, with big-ish changes to the North and South ends of the park (such as removal of the northern parking lot that is almost never open anyway), so that the middle remains more natural and festival friendly. Many details remain to be worked out on the Frog Island plan, but for those nervous soccer players who might read this, it seems it will remain the place for organized sports (and possibly even get some lights for night games!).
Missing from the plans, however, were bathrooms. I know, many of you are sick of hearing from me about public space and bathrooms, but really, I can't think of any other structures that these parks could use more. What interested me is that no one on the commission seemed at all concerned about this. The landscape architect's inclusion of a shelter for porta-potties seemed to suit them just fine. I waited until the bitter end to say anything -- thinking someone, anyone on the commission is going to ask about this... but they didn't, so I did. Yes, yes, I know the likely back story here (confirmed in secret e-mails with an Ypsi city planner): bathrooms in such public places are hard to keep clean, safe, and in good repair. Frankly, I don't care. There are lots of examples, from lots of other cities that can guide us in this noble cause. We are bright people. We can figure this out.
The other piece of the plans that bummed me out was the lack of bike racks (yet another topic some of you have grown tired of...). The parks will link up with the Border2Border trail, they are the site of festivals, community gardens and sporting events, they are close to the two major shopping/dining areas in town... one should be able to lock a bike easily near every entrance!
Okay, so what did I love? I loved the (potential) location of the new pavilion (south end of Riverside), ideas for kids' playspace that were more than the primary-colored structures we find in every other park, the new seating to be built into the hill on both sides of Frog Island's field, the sledding hill, the Riverside overlook, and all the lovely jargon that goes along with these kinds of improvements: daylighting storm pipes, bioswales, visual access, drop structures, detention elements.... mmmmm.... I think I need a towel.
Better than my take on any of this, however, are the notes that 8 year old E took:
"There are seven recreation commissioners here at City Hall. My mom and I are the only audience. It is 7:55 and we are discussing what to change in Riverside Park. We still have to discuss Frog Island and the agenda says we have until 8:00. The man who I think is the main commissioner is Murph (Richard Murphy). The man who is talking is Chris Mueller. Oops! It's 8:01 and he hasn't even started on Frog Island! It's 8:02 (two minutes after finishing time) he's just started on Frog Island. The map we have for Frog Island is pretty lame. I thought the other one was very detailed. It's almost like what I think Mrs. Barrett would call excellent writing. It's 8:08 and mom is asking me if I'm TIRED! I usually stay up until 8:45. As I said it's boring. I listened to the first one but this one is tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boooooooooooooooooriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing. Ok. I'll try to listen... Toooooooooooooooooooo bbbbbbbbbbbbbboooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg ttttttttooooooooooooo llllllllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssstttttttttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, do not let me die!"
Okay, so maybe I didn't do much to nurture her budding interest in government by taking her after all. BTW, she did not die and was home in bed by 9:00pm.
If'n you want to see what's happening with all this. The Rec Com is meeting again on Dec. 13 at 7pm in City Hall to see the next round of plans. Go. They'd be thrilled to see you. And remember.... don't forget to ask why there are plans to build a stage behind Riverside Arts Center but no plans for building permanent bathrooms!
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