Chason Park expansion, river walk among projects planned at Bainbridge City Council retreat

Published 4:03 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

Legacy projects are on the horizon for many of Bainbridge’s local parks. The first project discussed was that of a dog park located at the corner of West Calhoun and Florida Street. The second project includes an expansion of Chason Park and a river walk to connect all the parks to the river.

Kristin L’esperance and Brian Bays of TSW Planners were tasked with coming up with a concept to enhance the local parks and make them an area all residents would want to actively engage in.

The team noticed Bainbridge has great parks diversity, but it is disconnected. They saw a hidden river view, an understated historic fort and lack of connection to downtown and knew they had to change that. They envisioned a continuous park corridor that creates a portal to the river from downtown and allows for enhanced visibility and access to downtown.

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TSW Planners found through their studies that Water Street was considered one of the main access points to the river, so they suggested beginning the river walk from the flat area on Water Street, passing the back of the Courthouse and a gradual descent to the river, which would create for a procession.

This river walk would not only lead to the river, but pass by the expanded Chason Park, where TSW has created a flexible area that can be used for open air markets, a playground or kid friendly splash pad.

“We wanted to program this space and make it a real magnet for people that works with Willis Park and the Boat Basin; we are not trying to compete with them,” Bays said.

The river walk would feature a trellis gateway that enters into the park area. The walkway would showcase a different style of pavers, so it could be easily recognizable throughout the area. City Manager Chris Hobby told the Council he thought this would be a fine idea, considering they own all of the property, with the exception of one parcel, which they have permission to use for this walkway.

Once the walkway leads into the park, everyone will find something to suit him or her.

Guests will first see the river story, which Bays describes as a zipper to the entire park. The story will include the history of Bainbridge carved into it, along with a map of the river and natural play areas, along with rock and water beds for kids to learn and play in.

They will then enter the play area, where there is an interactive water feature. Kids could play in it, but also it can be on at all times to create a more sculptural beauty. There will also be sculptural play for children so they have something other than the traditional playground equipment they see at school.

The City has also been given a grant to include a fitness court in the park by the National Fitness campaign.  The gym is a “bodyweight circuit training system designed for adults of all ages and abilities.”

The park also features a flex lawn, which would be available for small bands to play, art festivals and other events. However, when not used for events it allows for kids to run and play, while using their imagination.

The last piece of the park would be an overlook to the river, including swings with a master grand staircase that integrates into the hillside.

“It’s meant to mimic the historic style that could’ve been there all along,” L’esperance said.

This space could also be used for weddings and prom pictures, as it is separated from the areas children are playing and splashing or others are riding their bike along the trail.

City Council was amazed by the vision and impressed with the overall ideas. In addition TSW presented the Council with different grant applications that could fund the majority of the projected million dollar project.