For more than a year, Sustainable Saratoga has been quietly trying to promote the idea of creating a small passive neighborhood park on the front lawn of the Excelsior Avenue City Waterworks Plant. We have had some initial positive comments on this proposal and we think it is now critical to move ahead with developing this park. We understand that the City will soon be constructing a security fence around the Waterworks Plant that will block public access to the front lawn. We hope the City will consider the benefits of creating a small park at this location.
The creation of a park at this particular location is desirable for several reasons, including:
- The Excelsior Avenue corridor is still growing rapidly. There are now over a thousand apartment dwellers in that area who could benefit from a small public park. It could be a passive place to sit, walk a dog or give kids a place to run around a little.
- Since 2016, the City Open Space Advisory Committee, chaired by Matt Veitch, has advocated for the creation of more small neighborhood parks.
- The 2015 Comprehensive Plan calls for creative “placemaking” and the creation or preservation of civic space such as pocket parks.
- The lawn of the Waterworks Plant is under-utilized public land. In these times of limited financial resources, it is more important than ever to pursue multiple uses for public properties.
- The Waterworks Plant lies at the intersection of two legs of the Greenbelt Trail system, the Downtown Connector running along the valley and the Marion Ave. spur that will lead north to Daniels Road.
- The waterworks building is an attractive piece of architecture. Putting a public park in front of it would greatly enhance this civic space.
Potential location on the City Waterworks Plant property where the park could be established.
We recently sent a letter to the City Council, requesting that they seek public input about the creation of a park and look for a solution that will balance security concerns with the public benefit that this extraordinary asset offers to the future of Saratoga.
We have had conversations with both water plant personnel and with the Commissioner of Public Works. We acknowledge that there are several concerns:
- Securing the main waterworks building with new perimeter fence;
- Securing various valves and other specific infrastructure components on the surface of the lawn; and
- The occasional need for major work on underground infrastructure, such as the recent break to a water main that required heavy equipment.
We propose that each of these concerns could be addressed with targeted solutions that would still allow DPW to create a small gem of a public park that would be of great value to residents and workers in this area.
- To secure the main waterworks building, we would recommend that a fence be placed around just the upper portion of the property. The fence could even be hidden in a low evergreen hedge.
- To secure the various valves, we would suggest the installation of secure cages for each specific piece of infrastructure.
- To accommodate the occasional need to do major work on underground infrastructure, any benches or other passive-use park installations would be rather modest and strategically placed to avoid conflicts with future underground repairs, and the City could simply close the park during periods when underground infrastructure work is needed.
We have offered the City our assistance in developing this pocket park. We have offered to help raise money or to plant trees as part of Sustainable Saratoga’s Tree Toga efforts. If you support the establishment of parks like this, please consider speaking out in support of this Waterworks Plant park.
The proposed park would be located in this grassy area at the corner Excelsior Ave and Marion Ave, with the City Waterworks Plant in the background.