Looking beyond the coronavirus lockdown: Winooski advances plan to transform city parks

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Onion City residents continue to shape a project to upgrade and update the city’s park system this spring, despite social-distancing mandated by COVID-19.

The upbeat wish-list, coordinated by Ray Coffey, Winooski’s community services director, is firming up with ample input from local folk — albeit no longer in face-to-face gatherings.

A work-in-progress until sometime this spring, the Parks and Open Space Master Plan already reflects the city’s transformation into Vermont’s multicultural hot spot.

Residents’ highest priorities for the park system include:

  • More community gardens.
  • Walkability (ideally, every resident would be no more than a 10-minute walk from a park, with easy access along safe sidewalks).
  • Way-finding signs that transcend language barriers.
  • More public art.
  • Gathering space for festivals.
  • Native plantings for urban forestry and pollinator gardens.
  • Improved access to nature areas.
  • Safer access to Rotary Park (within Winooksi’s central “Circulator”).

Brainstorming sessions extend beyond the city’s boundaries.

In December, University of Vermont students in David Raphael’s landscape architecture class displayed the results of an exercise that tackled several Winooski parks as design challenges.

Heather Carrington, the city’s community and economic development officer, took notes and passed them on.

Winooski residents can pace the parks and submit their ideas to Ray Coffey (who is working from home) at rcoffey@winooskivt.gov.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or joelbaird@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

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