In the spring of 2015, a committee of local leaders and interested community members began meeting to discuss the possibility of developing a park along Chittenango Creek by Riverside Drive. Extensive community input was gathered with the help of students from the SUNY ESF Landscape Architecture department. The final design of the park includes ideas gathered through this process.
With the plan in place, funding was obtained through Project CAFÉ’s raffle of a vintage car donated by Common Grounds (the raffle winner generously donated the car back which was subsequently auctioned for additional project funding). This helped to leverage a significant grant from the Central New York Community Foundation, submitted with assistance from the Cazenovia Area Community Development Association (CACDA).
The project organizers are pleased to report that while the project site still looks the same, much has been accomplished. A professional assessment of the site identified drainage and site work that needed to be planned for and addressed. Grading of the site will take place this fall along with improvements to both the lower parking lot near the proposed park and the upper lot near the library.
The final design for the park is nearly complete and additional input is being gathered from local organizations (for example the library and the Art Park) on the details of the play features. Site work will continue through this fall and installation of the playground is planned for late spring of 2017. When work is complete, the site will have been transformed to include not only the addition of the park but enhanced parking, a more environmentally sensitive area near the creek and improved options for pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.