By Steve Gulgren, project manager
As THPRD inches closer to designing and developing a new 7.5-acre neighborhood park in Aloha, district planners recently took the opportunity to host three community conversations with park neighbors and other project advocates.
These informal November gatherings, held at Beaver Acres Elementary School, were structured like focus groups. A total of about 30 people participated in the three meetings. The diverse group included residents in the immediate vicinity of the site, several families with young children and many members of underrepresented cultural communities.
Attendees had a direct line to park planners to discuss their values, needs and desires for a new neighborhood park. The discussion was directed to help THPRD understand how the new park can best serve the neighborhood and park users.
Participants described what their ideal neighborhood would look and feel like, they discussed physical features they would expect in a park, and how they would interact with the setting and each other.
Effective park design can enhance the quality of life for nearby residents, and THPRD heard several common themes emerge during these conversations:
- An interest in retaining the area’s natural setting. The beauty and serenity of the wooded area are important to nearby residents, who would like to see amenities designed or programmed to protect and leverage the natural elements and promote nature education.
- The desire for a safe, clean park. Participants were concerned about park safety, and requested that the district consider lighting the park and emphasizing design that would discourage loitering and undesirable activities, including camping and littering.
- The expectation of an inclusive gathering place. Participants expressed their desire that the park serve a diverse community by providing convenient pedestrian connectivity, gathering places (covered areas, tables, open spaces) and amenities that encourage diverse use (walking trails, family-oriented elements, adjacent play amenities for older and younger park users).
This input will inform further public outreach efforts and design concepts. It will allow THPRD, for example, to gather additional information that will help the district weigh the desire for a quiet, serene setting against the desire for active uses that would attract visitors.
In the coming weeks, we’ll provide more information about how you can become involved in upcoming design workshops that will help move the project forward thoughtfully.
In the meantime, we invite park neighbors and potential users to participate in a brief survey that will help us get an even better understanding of the community’s wants and needs at this spectacular site.
We appreciate your time and attention, and look forward to continued collaboration on this project.