Council set to vote on Thompson Park master plan

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Jul. 17—WATERTOWN — City Council is expected to approve a $135,000 contract on Monday night with two consultants to come up with a master plan for Thompson Park.

Last October, council members directed staff to obtain a proposal or proposals for professional design services to complete a master plan for the park.

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

The city solicited a proposal from Starr Whitehouse after the firm worked with GYMO on conceptual plans to create an amphitheater at the park last year. The city applied for funding from a federal Department of Defense grant but wasn't awarded the money.

"We became familiar with them when GYMO brought them in as part of their team to work on the conceptual design of the amphitheater," according to a memo to council from City Manager Kenneth A. Mix.

"They have extensive experience with park design, including Olmsted parks."

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.

Council members have allocated funds for the master plan within the adopted 2022-23 capital budget as part of the Thompson Park renovation project.

City Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero has asked a handful of times since last fall about the status of getting the master plan completed.

Council members also have allocated $4.2 million of their $22 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for potential projects in the park.

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.

They could be adding an ice rink and stage or bandstand, basketball courts, a skate park and disc golf courses in the park.

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

About a dozen staff members would be involved in the study. The hourly rates they would be paid would range from $80 for a clerk and project assistant to $350 for a firm partner.

With a number of ideas discussed for the park in recent years, Councilwoman Ruggiero thinks that the study should identify and prioritize which projects should be completed, what activities should be added, where they should go and assess the parking needs in the park.

She also thinks the study should include what the park would be like in 10 years and 50 years.

She also would like to take a look at the future for the Watertown Golf Club, what happens with the nine holes that it leases to the club and whether it should ever be converted into a nine-hole course and a municipal golf course.

"If the opportunity presents itself, would a municipal golf course be suitable and should it be nine or 18 holes," she said. "If WGC decided not to lease the land the nine holes are on, what should the city do with that land?"

The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the third floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.