A lakeside gathering place for families, neighbors and visitors is envisioned as the center of Wayzata’s Lake Effect project.
The design team Civitas presented the final concepts for the Lake Effect Signature Park at a community meeting Tuesday, Feb. 23.
It was the culmination of nearly a decade of community engagement and planning around the goal of making the lakefront a safer, more accessible and more ecologically conscious space.
“Our objective in fulfilling a program like this is to remember that this is about this town,” said Mark Johnson of Civitas. “It’s not about us, it’s not about our portfolio of work, it’s about what is best for this town today and going forward into the future.”
Foremost on the minds of many residents is the financial obligation that such a large-scale overhaul could entail. Civitas placed the total cost of constructing the signature park, in three phases, at a little over $19 million. Annual operating costs have been estimated at about $1.3 million for routine and capital maintenance of the space, park programming, and management.
The presentation introduced the idea of financing the creation and maintenance of the space through a variety of sources, including public philanthropy and contributions from taxpayers, but also revenue generated from the park itself, through means that could include paid parking and income from existing and new boat slips, venue and equipment rentals, concessions, an ice rink and events.
The recently established Lake Effect Conservancy was founded to guide and help execute the park project, and will work with the City Council on related planning and fundraising.
According to the concept, the signature park will include several features:
The lake walk. From the beginning of the community-input process many residents have expressed their desire for a walkway extending around the lake, an element the designers took into account. Entered from the east at Broadway Avenue, the lake walk would wind along the lake edge and would be embraced by restored marsh.
An eco park near the Section Foreman House. This area would be the eastern gateway to the lake walk, featuring a restored pond and marshland. It would serve as a ‘restorative pocket park,’ preserving the natural state of the lake edge and providing a space for ecological education that can be accessed by all visitors, and tailored to school groups studying natural science.
A ‘people-friendly’ Lake Street. The design increases the bike-ability and walk-ability of Lake Street with an expanded sidewalk and dedicated bike lane, keeping three lanes for cars. Modest treatment to paving and lighting will help the street transition into a car-free gathering space for community events such as James J. Hill Days.
An active beach. The plan looks to expand the beach, making it more inviting for families and visitors of all ages. It calls for closing the retention pond and treating storm water under ground, a shift that will make more space available for concessions, and for the installation of additional shade structures and a diving pier. Restrooms will also be easily accessible.
Civitas will give a presentation on the park design at the State of the City Luncheon, set for Wednesday, March 9, at the Wayzata Country Club. Additional community presentations will likely take place later this month and in early April.
The design team will deliver the final design packet to the Wayzata City Council on April 1. The packet will include the signature park concept, perspective and schematic designs, the phased construction plan and cost estimates, and long-term maintenance and operations cost estimates and sources.
Following its review of the final design packet, the City Council will decide on further action regarding the park project. Mayor Ken Willcox said that phasing, funding and the impact of construction on a city that has already been the site of several recent projects will be taken into account.
“In spite of all those decisions, we have to keep our focus on the long-term objective here,” said Willcox. “The objective is to revitalize our lakefront and to create in it an amenity that is a safer lakefront, a lakefront that is more ecologically friendly than what currently exists ... and improves on access to and from the water. A place that will be suited to families and visitors today and for generations to come. I think if we can accomplish that, we will have done the very best that we can for the city of Wayzata.”