A year ago, volunteers young and old, locals as well as visitors turned out in force to transform Karen Hornaday Park’s aging playground into a wonderland for children of all ages. Wednesday, the spotlight was on Bayview Park, where community members gathered to work and to share ideas for improving the city’s “lovely little neighborhood park” at the top of Main Street.
Best Beginnings Homer, the park’s “adoptive parent,” organized the effort to repair the fence outlining the area, weed the sandbox and do general cleanup.
“We are also seeking suggestions and ideas from people about what they would like from that park,” said Jenny Martin of Best Beginning’s plan.
Corvus Design, an Anchorage-based landscape architectural firm, is participating in the effort.
“We’ve contracted with Corvus and they’re sending one of their staff people down to share ideas and gather feedback and then what they’re going to do is develop a master plan,” said Martin.
According to Corvus Design’s website, the firm has worked on projects for schools in Gustavus, Kodiak and Valdez, as well as the Seward Public Library and Museum, Russian Jack Springs Park in Anchorage, the Sitka Sea Walk and the Wrangell Fisherman’s Memorial.
Kate Crowley, who is heading up the effort for Best Beginnings, described Bayview as a great park for toddlers.
“It has a white picket fence all around the edging that makes it safe for the age that is just exploring all the time. It’s great for moms in town who might have one, two kids or more because they can relax because the fence keeps the kids safely in the park. And it’s got some great features,” said Crowley.
The park offers play equipment, a hill for little legs to run down, lots of grass to play on and tables perfect for picnics. It location adds to the attraction.
“It has a beautiful view of the bay and is close to town,” said Crowley. “It’s one of those Homer treasures.”
In 2011, volunteers and support from local businesses put a shine on the park. That effort included fence repair, painting picnic tables, filling dirt in around the slide, construction of some log steps and an alder fort, and installing boulders just the right size for youngsters wanting to climb.
Time and use have taken a toll on the area, however, and improvements are needed. Last fall, Best Beginnings Homer officially took Bayview Park under its wing through the city of Homer’s adopt-a-park program.
“Ever since Best Beginnings Homer started four years ago, we’ve wanted a work group to focus on play spaces for young families, a work group that makes sure play spaces are age-appropriate and safe, finds out what parents want and does what we can to help with that,” said Martin. “We’ve been working with Angie Otteson from the (city of Homer) Public Works Department, who is in charge of parks. She’s been super and easy to work with and is just behind us 100 percent.”
Carey Meyer, the Public Works director, praised Best Beginnings’ efforts.
“This is an example of adopt-a-park that we’re encouraging,” said Meyer, describing Bayview as “a well-utilized neighborhood park that’s younger kid-oriented and has some things going on there that aren’t going on elsewhere.”
Last year, Best Beginnings purchased for the park an adaptive swing designed for youngsters with disabilities. When HoPP, the Homer Playground Project, gained momentum for the Karen Hornaday Park effort, the community’s efforts focused on that project. Now, Best Beginnings is redirecting attention to Bayview.
“Some of the key things that are going to happen is making it ADA (American Disabilities Act) accessible and then we’re looking at adding one or two new elements,” said Martin.
In the past, parents have expressed interest in additional swings. A desire to repair or replace the jungle gym also has been noted.
“We’re not looking at something big like Karen Hornaday Park, but some little things,” said Martin. “And we’re looking for feedback from people for what they want.”
Corvus Design will use those ideas to develop a master plan for the park that can be implemented over the next three or four years.
“We’re hoping the master plan will be done this fall and then start fundraising and start implementing (the plan) in 2014,” said Martin. “Of course, we need to work closely with the city and make sure it fits within their schedule.”
Currently, the group’s efforts are being supported with a grant from the Ashley J. Logan Fund of the Homer Foundation.
Anyone interested in participating in this project can email Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Crowley at 399-4406.