Renewing Knollwood Park: What would you like to see?


Knollwood Park

This photo was taken a few months ago just after the hydro substation located at the corner of East Ave. and Stirling Ave. N. was removed. I always remember it being there so it’s odd to see it gone.

Knollwood Park had lost a landmark. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, you probably think of it as the green space behind Sheppard School.

The “house’s” removal didn’t take me by surprise though because I had learned it was coming from Auditorium Neighbourhood Association meetings I have attended dealing with the need for parking and transportation issues for the expanded Auditorium. But I’ve been going to Knollwood Park as a child to go tobogganing and now take my own children there to enjoy the playground, go tobogganing and skating, so I noticed the change. The site has been cleaned up though and its amazing how quick you get used to the new scenery.

What’s happening at Knollwood Park?

The Auditorium Neighbourhood Association (ANA) knew about the demolition because they had hoped to renovate the utility house to use it to store material for programs such as soccer and Waddlefest that they run in the park. In fact, they hoped to use a $10,000 grant ANA won from participating in the Festival of Neighbourhoods. The ANA interest in the site goes back at least a decade.

But due to its past use as a hydro substation, I understand that there were still too many hazardous materials present for the building to be safely used so the decision was made to tear it down.

Renewing Knollwood Park

So the ANA suggested a gazebo replace the substation which kicked off discussions with the City of Kitchener about the future of the park. It had been a long time since the park had received any attention and it was determined that the gazebo decision should be a part of renewing the park.

I indicated at these meetings that Knollwood Park is also the neighbourhood park for people living on the King Street side of Weber St. E. (i.e. Onward, Dane, Crescent, part of Borden N. and part of Weber St. E.). Since the ANA boundary stopped at Weber Street, I wanted to be sure that people living in this neighbourhood also participated in the renewal process and offered to help spread the word.

The first step was a walk through the park with city staff to look at the current state of the park and brainstorm how it could be renewed. I had hoped to participate and to let my neighbours know through this blog and e-mail but unfortunately I was missed on the email confirming the date and time. You’ll find below the notes from that walk around.

What would you like to see?

I encourage my neighbours in our East Downtown Kitchener neighbourhood to review the list and to offer their comments on the brainstorming and to add their own ideas.

I’ve been reading Jane Jacobs recently and she makes the point that parks are not necessarily a positive contribution to a neighbourhood. They can be depending on factors such as how they relate to their perimeter and whether they have a variety of uses for a diverse group of users who shift throughout the day. So I believe its important that Knollwood’s renewal makes it an even better public space designed for people to actively use.

So please share your thoughts and ideas! I will make sure they are shared with the folks at the city and the ANA.

Next steps

The city is now working on the existing conditions plan now and are open to any ideas you may have for the park. They will be looking at creating a couple of conceptual plans for presentation at a neighbourhood meeting at Sheppard School in early September. I’ll help to spread the word about that meeting but I’m hoping that the city will distribute flyers around the neighbourhood too. That kind of notice has been helpful in making sure people knew about the Auditorium expansion meetings.

After the September meeting, the city will produce a final concept plan based on community input. Then it will be up to the budget process to get the funding for the redevelopment of Knollwood Park.

Notes from Knollwood Park walk around

Combined Notes from Knollwood Park Neighbourhood Meeting, May 16, 2012

Gazebo:

  • To act as a neighbourhood gathering area, shelter and storage location
  • Locations suggested:
  • Centrally located between soccer field and baseball diamond
  • Near East Ave., North of existing slope
  • On top of elevated tree area
  • Mini stage as a feature of the gazebo
  • Plant trees around the gazebo in this location
  • Electrical source in gazebo
  • Include BBQ feature
  • Possible location on elevated treed area
  • Community sign board

Storage:

  • Storage for soccer and neighbourhood association supplies and equipment to replace substation
  • Storage/meeting place/shelter in middle of field
  • Pedestrian Features:
  • Motion sensor/more lighting along path; light that point down?
  • Bicycle path on perimeter
  • Create an entrance where the substation used to stand:
  • An easily maintained garden,
  • Perennial / grasses for additional colour
  • Something that is four seasons,
  • Plaza with seating,
  • Park identity or plaque (like at Windrush Park)
  • More trees or hedges down East Ave. to create a barrier of sorts between the street and the park
  • Staggered second row suggested
  • The elevated corner is not well integrated into the rest of the park; put up benches to watch the sunset,
  • gazebo could be placed here; plant more trees up here, put a BBQ in here.
  • Connect existing path to new paths
  • Trail on perimeter to allow interior park walking and a destination rather than just the exterior sidewalk; stroller
  • access and lack of destination points
  • Trail access from edge of parking along one way exit to Borden Ave.
  • Better access from playground to elevated tree area

Vehicular Circulation:

  • Pylons to delineate between parking and park
  • Expand lane from school parking lot to Borden Ave to accommodate more parking
  • Consider that people drive up pathway from Stirling to back of school for parking on Ranger nights.
  • Additional curb at the demolished building site to prevent overflow parking
  • Vehicular deterrent along Stirling Ave such as rocks, planting beds
  • Park Facilities and Services:
  • Install washrooms to replace port-a-potties
  • Make the park a destination; put in a refreshment stand
  • Community vegetable garden in the park; test for soil toxicity, identify best location for garden, water sources
  • for garden
  • Potential location identified at North-West corner, void park space former playground
  • Ability to post neighbourhood information on building in the park
  • Access to water to flood rink
  • Move garbage receptacles away from homes
  • Garbage barrels always tipped and full of dog waste
  • Addition of splash pad
  • Washroom facilities

Play Features:

  • More uses for older kids
  • Tennis court (something for older kids); hockey pad in winter, ball hockey in summer
  • Amelioration of play structures and base, something other than sand as the base (mulch/rubberized)
  • Add new piece to the playground like at McLennan
  • More climbing apparatus’; sliding bars (zip lining type equipment)
  • Full picnic table (half a picnic table is currently at the playground area)
  • Bigger hill for tobogganing
  • More benches along south side of playground
  • Sports Field Features:
  • New soccer goals; moveable soccer nets to protect turf from erosion?
  • Fence to stop soccer balls from going onto East Ave.
  • Replace benches by soccer field
  • Pave or place gravel around benches to avoid ruts/puddles
  • Upgrade basketball nets on school property to give something for the older kids

Drainage Issues:

  • Corner of the park closes to Borden and Weber, by the playground, floods and is very wet
  • Re-grade path (unless it moves to another location), erosion issues
  • Existing catch basin near former building site not draining properly
  • Wet area identified at corner of basketball court on soft landscaping, and east of playground

Miscellaneous

  • Vancouver has buildings in parks that families live in and are stewards of the park; one building was two
  • stories and housed a family on the top floor and a pub on the first floor.
  • Local business space to rent out
  • Wind turbine on the hill at East and Borden
  • Freshen up school’s natural area
  • Elevated tree area identified as a very “comfortable” and desired place to go
  • Potential for public art in the Park
  • Would like to see the park designed with appropriate acoustics
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