Master plan consultants spend a day in Thompson Park

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WATERTOWN — On a sunny, warm day, four consultants walked about seven miles around Thompson Park as part of an effort to come up with a blueprint for the historic city-owned landmark.

Representatives of Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners PPLC spent the entire day on Wednesday at the park to see what it’s like and what it could be like in the future.

The firm was retained by the city to develop a master plan, the first update since 1985.

Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director, said the consultants got to see the park’s landscaping and amenities. They will come up with potential ideas for Thompson Park.

“I think they got a feel for the park,” he said.

In the morning, the consultants walked around the park. They also met for about 90 minutes with the Friends of Thompson Park and then got together with City Manager Kenneth A. Mix, planning department staff and members of the parks and recreation department. The consultants also continued their tour in the afternoon.

A master plan became a City Council goal in recent years while there have been increased discussions about adding amenities to the park.

The blueprint will help the city devise an overall plan for the park but also determine what kind of projects that the city should develop with $4.25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding that it has appropriated for the green space.

The possible improvements include Thompson Park projects that have been talked about for years, but the city could not pursue without the use of its $22 million ARPA allocation.

The city would look at adding an ice rink and stage or bandstand, basketball courts, a skate park and disc golf courses in the park.

The Friends of Thompson Park was instrumental in creating the splash pad at the park four years ago. Two summers ago, the city opened a new pool at the park.

In recent years, volunteers have worked on improving the park’s trail system and the city spent $50,000 to hire a landscaping company to get rid of a lot of underbrush that took over several areas of the park.

But what comes next?

That’s what Starr Whitehouse will help decide.

Mr. Mix, who attended the entire all-day meeting with the consultant, said the city is shooting for next spring for a draft master plan. The city will use it to put together a list of priority projects that the should pursue with the ARPA funds.

The city would then have just two construction seasons to get them completed before an ARPA deadline, he said. Starr Whitehouse is expected to complete some drawings in the spring, he said.

The consultants also will conduct an inventory and analysis of the park, get input from the public and determine a final plan development for the study.

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