Fun by design | Columnists

Historically, the number of people living in downtown Redwood City has been relatively small compared to other areas of the city. However, the drive to build high-density housing close to public transportation has resulted in the construction of several large residential developments in the downtown district. There are many benefits to living downtown, with at least one serious downside: limited access to public parks. Understanding that parks and green spaces have physical and psychological benefits, the city, while approving housing projects attracting thousands of new residents to downtown, also began the process of creating one or more downtown parks. -town.

The city’s understanding of the need became clear years ago. In 2008, he received the results of a “parks and facilities needs assessment” commissioned by the city. This assessment considered the current and projected needs for parks and recreation facilities throughout the Town of Redwood and prioritized the various efforts required to meet the identified needs.

Using a city standard of 3 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, the assessment divided the city into seven sections and then considered the number, size and availability of parklands in each. The assessment determined that the area encompassing downtown Redwood City needed the most amount of parkland to bring it up to standard: a whopping 25 acres.

After receiving the assessment, the next visible step in the downtown parks process took about 10 years. In 2018, the city released its “Downtown Parks Site Assessment and Feasibility Study,” which examined six city-owned downtown properties and assessed their suitability for becoming parks. Of the six potential sites, four are parking lots, one is a mini-park (in combination with part of Spring Street to increase its size) and the last includes the banks of Redwood Creek from Bradford Street to the 101 freeway.

Armed with input from the public at workshops and various public meetings, the city settled on three: the parking lot on the east side of the downtown public library plus the adjacent Roselli Garden; City Hall/Main Street parking lot (behind City Hall and Jefferson Avenue Post Office); and the banks of Redwood Creek. These, and the walking and biking connections between them, will combine to form an “urban recreation corridor” connecting downtown Redwood City to the waterfront and Bay Trail.

The central part of the city’s ‘Downtown and Bay Area Parks Connectivity Project’ – the City Hall/Main Street parking lot – will face challenges, given the many parking spaces in the heart of downtown Redwood City that would be lost. Perhaps to avoid the problem for a while, the city divided the project into phases and left the implementation of this park to a later phase. The first phase, however, includes the entire park that would be located right next to the library, from design to construction.

Last Saturday, the city held a workshop at the library to gather public input on who and what the library grounds should be used for, and what kind of amenities it should contain. I attended this workshop, where I worked through a handful of stations throughout the library.

The first station, in the lobby, simply communicated the extent of this first new park, which would not only replace the library’s east parking lot and adjacent garden, but could also consume part of the parking lot behind the library. Up a flight of stairs, I came to the second station, which displayed several possible uses for the library grounds as well as possible amenities. There I had the opportunity to suggest additional uses and conveniences and to vote for my preferences.

The third and final station was at the library’s Teen Center. There, I was given a paper map showing the potential extent of the first phase of the park, and I was offered colored pencils and pens, pages covered with charts depicting several potential park amenities, as well as scissors and adhesive tape allowing me to affix the chosen equipment to my card. With these I sat down to design my perfect library park. I spent the most time at this station: I had to think about the various challenges that this particular site faces, such as noise from passing trains, traffic noise from Middlefield Road and Main Street, and the proximity security issues. in these busy streets. My design ended with a stage backing onto Main Street facing a generous lawn, a playground behind the library, picnic grounds, and a stream-shaped water feature running through the park to honor Redwood Creek .

I’m thrilled to see this project continue to progress and look forward to seeing the final design of the library grounds. Although it will be years before the two remaining parks come to fruition, something is better than nothing, and our many downtown residents will no doubt be thrilled to finally have a real park within walking distance of their homes. .

Greg Wilson is the creator of Walking Redwood City, a blog inspired by his walks through Redwood City and adjacent communities. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter @walkingRWC.

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