Tag archive

Thompson Park

Council hires consultant to develop Thompson Park plan

in Local News/Place 1,470 views

WATERTOWN — City Council took a first step on Monday night to come up with a blueprint for Thompson Park.

Council members approved a $135,000 contract with two consultants to come up with a master plan for Thompson Park.

Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners PPLC, New York City, and GYMO Architecture, Engineering & Land Surveying, Watertown, will work together to complete the study.

Before the vote, Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said that Starr Whitehouse has experience working on other Olmsted parks, including Central Park in New York City.

The city-owned historic park was designed in the early 20th century by John and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park and many other parks throughout the United States.

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

In recent years, the city has focused on enhancing and adding trails in the park and removing buckthorn, an invasive species that has gobbled up lawns in the historic city park for decades.

Continue Reading on NNY360

Landscapers clear acres of overgrown, invasive plants to improve Thompson Park

in Enviroment/Place 212 views

WATERTOWN — Starting a more than weeklong project on Thursday, Brian R. Percy sat perched a couple of stories above the ground in Thompson Park operating a Prentice log loader.

The loader, fitted with a claw, grabbed pesky underbrush, picked it up and placed it in the back of a dump truck.

Back on the ground, another employee of B&R Tree Experts, Black River, maneuvered a Bobcat, equipped with a Fecon head on it, as it placed smaller debris in an industrial chipper. Two other employees with chain saws also helped out with the project.

Within three hours, the four B&R tree experts removed about an acre of European buckthorn, clearing out an area near the Gotham Street entrance that will be used by park-goers in the near future.

“We don’t mess around,” Mr. Percy said. “We get in and get out.”

Over the next week or so, the company will remove about 11 acres of buckthorn, an invasive species that has gobbled up lawns in the historic city park for decades.

It’s part of the city’s ongoing efforts to make the park “more accessible and more usable,” according to City Manager Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s resident Thompson Park expert.

After the work is done, Mr. Mix, who’s spearheading the improvements, envisions adding picnic tables to the cleared space or creating a disc golf course, an amenity that park enthusiasts have requested in recent years.

While the heavy equipment will remove gobs of buckthorn quickly, other park improvements began four years ago.

In 2018, volunteers and members of the Friends of Thompson Park, a group dedicated to the 355-acre park, started gathering one Saturday a month in the summer months and into the fall to work on Thompson Park’s trail system.

“They’ve done a lot of work,” Mr. Mix said.

Over the past 20 years, mountain bikers have created a series of trails around the park.

But many of the trails that snake around the park have been covered by the invasive species. Others have disappeared after years of neglect, Mr. Mix said.

The improvements began with volunteers using tools to remove brush by hand to widen trails, create new ones and reopen underutilized portions of the park.

They dragged out the debris, where it was picked up by public works crews and carted away.

Park enthusiasts were back at work on Saturday placing wood chips on some of those improved trails.

During the past few years, Walter Zabriskie, who has lived in Watertown for 40 years, has participated in about a half dozen of the Saturday volunteer efforts.

“We love the park,” he said. “We think it’s the best thing about Watertown.”

On a recent humid day, Mr. Mix took a reporter on a hike through a trail off West End Drive, near the Gotham Street entrance.

Across the road from the West End Drive Overlook, the trail entrance has been marked by logs on either side. The trail quickly narrows. Only one person can hike on it at a time.

It meanders past Goose Pond, a depressed water area on the left, and the Watertown Golf Club on the other side. It loops around and comes back out to the overlook.

“I know people who have lived here 30 years and don’t know this is here,” Mr. Mix said.

He’s hoping to change that with the ongoing improvements.

Continue Reading on NNY360

Pride flag raised Saturday in Watertown

in Event/People 174 views

WATERTOWN — Hundreds gathered outside city hall to see the Pride flag raised Saturday in honor of Pride Month.

The flag-raising kicked off several Pride events throughout the day, including “Out in The Park” at Thompson Park from noon to 3 p.m., which had a beer tent, vendors, bounce houses, face painting, food and a color run. A traveling drag show arrived downtown Saturday night. Fireworks concluded the festivities at the Watertown Fairgrounds.

Jeff Cole, a member of Watertown Pride, was emcee at the flag-raising. Watertown joins Clayton, Alexandria Bay and Cape Vincent in the monthlong LGBTQ Pride celebration.

“We’re making this a regional Pride destination for people all over this country and Canada,” Mr. Cole said to the crowd. “We are doing it because of you. Your support is what keeps us going. Thank you to each and every single one of you. Happy Pride and we’ll see you up at the park.”

One of several speakers outside city hall was Owen Gilbo, an equal opportunity specialist with the state who came to represent Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul.

“I’m a very out and proud trans man,” Mr. Gilbo said. “I share that because there are those out there that think we don’t exist, there are those who wish we didn’t exist and there are those who just don’t understand. More importantly, I’m out because it’s important for people to see trans people and realize just who we are. We’re just human beings. Transgender identity is not my favorite identity. No. 1 identity is grandpa.”

He read a proclamation from the governor’s office, saying the state is honored to unveil the newly renovated Marsha P. Johnson State Park in Brooklyn, which is named after a transgender woman of color who helped lead LGBTQ activists during the Stonewall uprising of 1969 in Manhattan.

Continue Reading on NNY360

City to hire contractor to work on Thompson Park trails

in People/Place 199 views

WATERTOWN — With spring just about here, it’s about that time for improvement work to begin again on the trail system in Thompson Park.

The city will look at a two-pronged approach this year.

In the past, volunteers have used tools to remove brush by hand to widen trails and reopen underutilized portions of the city-owned park.

The Friends of Thompson Park, a group of park enthusiasts, have overseen the work.

For the first time, the city plans to hire a contractor to do some of the work. On Monday night, the City Council informally agreed to set aside $50,000 for a contractor to bring in a specially equipped skid-steer loader, such as a Bobcat, to clean out the brush and crush the material into wood chips.

“You can get a lot more done,” City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said.

Last summer, GYMO Architecture, Engineering & Land Surveying lent a loader to do the work. A Black River company then removed the brush.

It came at a good time because he city had problems finding seasonal help to work in the park and on the trails, Mr. Mix said, so he thinks it is a better idea to bring in a contractor.

“We were impressed with what got done,” Mr. Mix said, adding that the loader is able to make the trails wider. “It was more efficient than doing by hand.”

Continue Reading on NNY360

Watertown City Council eliminates Thompson Park parking lot

in Local News/Place 303 views

WATERTOWN — Park-goers and golfers will no longer be able to use a makeshift parking lot in an area of Thompson Park near the Watertown Golf Club.

After years of debate, the City Council passed an ordinance 3-1 Tuesday night to eliminate the overflow parking area, with Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith defending that it should remain in existence.

Councilor Sarah V. Compo Pierce was absent from the meeting.

The ordinance deletes the gravel area from the city code’s list of designated parking areas for Thompson Park.

The parking area has been a source of debate for years and a subject of a lawsuit before the latest round of “Golf Gate” came up.

The vote came up on Tuesday night after council members erroneously failed to take a final vote two weeks ago on an environmental study related to eliminating the parking lot.

Mayor Smith and Councilors Lisa A. Ruggiero and Cliff G. Olney III debated the issue again for 40 minutes on Tuesday night.

The two council members argued over golfers primarily using the lot and the Watertown Golf Club getting preferential treatment.

Meanwhile, Mayor Smith contended that there has been no conspiracy to allow the golf club to use the area for parking, adding that “nobody cares about which blade of grass up there somebody’s parking on.”

Continue Reading on NNY360

City Council revisiting proposed dog park at Thompson Park

in Animals/Place 284 views

WATERTOWN — Six years after his dog died and 15 years after he first proposed the idea, S.G. Gates might get his wish of a dog park in Thompson Park.

City Council members are again discussing whether they should follow through with Mr. Gates’ longtime lobbying efforts of putting a dog park in Thompson Park.

“I’m very, very cautiously optimistic,” Mr. Gates said Tuesday. “It would be a wonderful asset for the community.”

Mr. Gates began his quest, hoping his dog Mia Marie Bumblebee would someday use the park. The 13-year-old husky died in 2015.

He’s willing to answer any questions that council members might have about the project, noting that Fort Drum, Plattsburgh and many other communities have dog parks.

Continue Reading on NNY360

Go to Top