VALPARAISO | Plans for the next phase of the Central Park Plaza development will be presented to the public for the first time at a pair of meetings at 4 and 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Valparaiso City Hall.
The meetings will get public input on features proposed in the concept plan put together by Design Organization architects, who will lead the discussion.
Parks Director John Seibert said the proposal calls for a pavilion that can be used as an ice rink in the winter and as a covered space for the farmers' market and other activities in the warmer months. Other possible features include an enclosed fireplace and a warming shelter that can be used as a rental/retail space in summer.
One idea to be reviewed is if Lafayette Street should be closed permanently for the pavilion as part of the expansion or if should remain flexible to be open for traffic at times.
The existing park opened two years ago and has been more popular than expected with 150 events held between April and November attracting between 300 and 2,000 people. The expansion will take about a year to complete.
"We want to create shade and a larger venue for bigger events and have a year-round presence for people to connect with and bring them downtown," Seibert said.
The design would provide a more efficient operation for things like the market with permanent hookups for merchants rather than having them depend on tents. The pavilion also will provide a covered area for events to be held when the weather is unfavorable for outdoor activities.
The cost range for the project is still being worked out, but Seibert said it will be in the same range as the first phase, which was between $2 million and $3 million. The city plans to conduct a fundraising campaign to pay for it and have commitments in time to begin construction in the spring.
"The city just wanted to take this added opportunity to get the public's input along the way," he said.