In the fall of 2019, THPRD will open a new 7.5-acre neighborhood park in Aloha at a site near Beaver Acres Elementary School that includes two recently acquired parcels and the small, undeveloped Crowell Woods Natural Area.
Last week, park neighbors were invited to participate in three design workshops with THPRD and WH Pacific, the landscape architect that will soon prepare the preferred master plan.
“It feels very inclusive, which is nice because we live in the area and it’s nice to have a one-on-one, before it goes in front of everybody,” park neighbor Adam Grabel said after attending one of the workshops with his wife and children. “Even if it’s just offloading ideas that we thought were important to the community, I like that ‘early-in’ process for us.”
February’s workshops are another element of THPRD’s reimagined approach to park planning; several new processes have given neighbors and other park advocates more input before the master plan is prepared. This pioneering approach may become a template for future THPRD park design projects.
The district began the dialogue with neighbors in November with three “Community Conversations.” These focus groups gave several groups – including nearby residents, families and underrepresented cultural communities — a chance to discuss their recreational needs.
Additionally, nearly 200 people expressed their preferences in a survey distributed to neighbors and posted on a project web page at THPRD.org.
At the recent workshops, more than 30 people learned new details about the site’s features and constraints. They also participated in a group exercise to propose their own design ideas for the property. Afterward, each group presented their ideas to the larger gathering.
“I liked being able to meet neighbors and get their perspective, because it helped us to see not just what we wanted, but what other people wanted,” Sonja Grabel said.
Generally, participants supported elements that preserved and showcased the natural beauty of the site, which features many mature trees and is intersected by a small creek.
“We have ideas – my daughter especially – about what we’d like to see,” said Andrea Galvin, whose daughter joined her in attendance. “Nature play is really big for her. There’s a lot of little kid play structures in the area, but nothing for bigger kids to play on.”
Galvin said the give-and-take with neighbors was a worthwhile exercise.
“It’s a great way to bring us all in and we can give our input before the decisions are made for us,” she said. “I was happy to see what people came up with today. At times, I thought, ‘I like their idea better than what we came up with!’”
All of the feedback gathered throughout this multitiered planning effort will now be compiled and vetted by THPRD’s Design & Development staff. It will then be integrated into a preferred master plan.
Once completed, that plan will be presented to THPRD’s advisory committees and also made available for review at a public meeting this spring.
“I would expect that, when the next plan comes out, that it speaks to some of what we saw and talked about here.” Sonja Grabel said.
If the district’s first iteration of the master plan reflects the vision of park neighbors and receives public support, it could be approved by THPRD’s Board of Directors as early as June.
Construction of the unnamed park is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019.