by Rachel Hunter
Grant funding secured through New York State Senator Patty Ritchie’s office will allow the Village of Gouverneur to make a series of upgrades to the Gouverneur Village Park. The list of suggested improvements is estimated cost over $150,000.
The Village of Gouverneur retained the services of Bernier, Carr and Associates, Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors, P. C. (BCA) in Watertown, NY to assist them with the planned upgrades. The area studied encompasses the triangular area formed by East Main Street, Church Street and Grove Street in the Village of Gouverneur. The area is approximately 34,800 square feet and in located in central Gouverneur in the B-1 Business Zoning District. The existing site has several featured elements throughout the park including a bandstand gazebo, a memorial archway, a village clock and water fountain.
The report received from BCA was utilized by the Village of Gouverneur to scope a project that the Village plans to undertake with the grant funds expected from Senator Patty Ritchie. In preparation of the report, BCA collaborated with Mayor Ronald McDougall and Department of Public Works Superintendent TJ Simmons and developed a list of suggested improvements and their associated costs. From this list, the Village of Gouverneur will be able to select improvements to implement.
Mayor McDougall expressed to BCA that the bandstand gazebo should be a primary focus for improvement funds. After an evaluation of the existing conditions of the gazebo that was donated by Gouverneur citizens in 1976 during the Bicentennial Year, there are several degrees of improvements that can be made. The improvements could be as simple as repainting, to adding aesthetic elements or to the extent of replacing the entire structure. Visually, the structure looks structurally sound and the roof is only a few years old. Therefore, total replacement would not be necessary but may be desired.
BCA recommended replacing the floor boards and adding aesthetic elements (such as a cupola, braces, decorative trim, lights, etc.) to the existing structure to improve the overall appearance while keeping the structure intact, and then to repaint everything. Since the gazebo has historical importance BCA reported that it sees the value in restoring the existing structure and improving on it over demolition and replacement with a new structure.
However, if total replacement is desired, there are two options with pros and cons for both. The first option would be to replace the structure with a pre-fabricated gazebo from a supplier such as North Country Storage Barns. The benefit of this would be a lower cost but available sizes will be much smaller than the existing structure. The other option would be to design-build a custom gazebo, with would allow for flexibility in size, but the cost will be significantly greater.
The extent to which the Village of Gouverneur decides to improve the gazebo will very much dictate the remaining improvements for the village park.
BCA also recommends adding significant foundation landscaping around the base of the gazebo, which would add an additional aesthetic improvement to draw the eye to the gazebo as people pass by. Going this route, would also leave a significant amount of funds to accomplish other needed improvements throughout the village park.
BCA also reported that one element the village park lacks is a flexible outdoor plaza for the community to use for regular community events and programs such as movies in the park, outdoor fitness classes, civic gatherings, small concerts, etc. Proximity to the bandstand gazebo is important and placement along Church Street would provide a more quiet intimate setting versus the bustle along East Main Street. Flexible seating areas would be ideal and therefore, BCA suggests installing the site benches initially, and then when more funds become available, add tables and chairs to facilitate users to sit and enjoy their lunch.
Although additional programming was not initially discussed as a desired improvement, BCA believes that the Village Park’s use would greatly increase with the addition of a paved plaza to serve as a flexible gathering space. “Not only would it facilitate activities occurring at the bandstand gazebo, it could provide additional seating for users looking to enjoy their lunch in the park or those attending the summer farmers market,” the report reads. “With the addition of this paved gathering space, BCA also suggests creating another crossing on Church Street off the plaza at mid-block. This would encourage pedestrians to use a safe means of crossing in a third location along Church Street while encouraging drivers to drive slowly.”
The Village of Gouverneur has also indicated that it would like to repoint the stone memorial arch. There are several cracks in the stone that will need to be thoroughly evaluated to determine if the cracks are causing any major defects or if repointing will be sufficient. The memorial arch is a main feature in the park and therefore the repointing of the stone should be completed. Further evaluation of the arch condition and proposed repairs is warranted. A repointing allowance was included in the budget.
In addition to the plantings at the gazebo, BCA also highly suggests increasing the landscaping around the memorial arch. The arch serves as an important visual element in the park and adding landscaping will only increase its appearance as significant. BCA also suggests when more funds become available to also install additional plantings around the other significant features of the park such as the village clock, fountain, and LifeSavers sign. A maintenance plan should be implemented in order to preserve the design intent of the landscape and ensure the park is upkept.
BCA also recommended removing and replacing the overgrown trees on the existing site. “Not only are the overgrown trees not aesthetically pleasing, they also pose as safety hazards because of their poor branching structure,” the report reads.
Another proposed improvement to upgrade the overall quality of the park suggested by BCA would be to relocate the several electrical outlets into the ground or with smaller electrical outlets hidden with tree circles or planting beds. “Not only will this make the park look less cluttered, it will better facilitate multiple uses of the park without restriction of the outlets in the way,” the report reads.
As far as accessibility improvements are concerned, BCA reported that overall ADA accessibility could be greatly improved throughout the park. Recently, the NYS Department of Transportation replaced the ADA accessible ramps on the north side of the park along Main Street. BCA recommends replacing the remaining three ADA ramps along Church Street. Additionally, the existing interior asphalt walks are deteriorating and need replacement to meet the requirements for ADA accessible walks. “Accessibility throughout the park is certainly imperative and therefore we highly recommend not only replacing the internal walk with accessible concrete walks but also replacing the existing ADA ramps along Church Street,” the report reads.
BCA also reported that the current site furnishings are in good condition but need upgrades. “The existing pedestrian site lights are in great condition but are currently metal halide lights and should be converted to LED lights which tend to last much longer, are more energy efficient, and require less maintenance intensive technology,” the report reads. “Conversion of these exact pole-top lights was already completed at the Community Center and provide a great example to the benefit of conversion. The existing benches, trash receptacles, and bollards should be replaced with modern furnishings that could set the Village standard for these items moving forward for future projects in the village. “
BCA recommends converting the existing 12 pedestrian site lights (currently metal halide lights) to LED lights, which tend to last much longer, are more energy efficient, and require less maintenance intensive technology. Implementing this improvement will have monetary benefits for the village ultimately.
Updating all site furnishings would be ideal but with limited funds, BCA suggests replacing the site benches initially as they will have the most significant impact visually for the park. “When selecting a bench, we suggest considering setting a standard bench to use throughout the village to create a cohesive look,” the report reads. “We additionally recommend putting two new benches in the bus shelters for users.”
BCA also said that the existing flagpoles along the western corner are in bad condition and should be replaced or removed considering there are other flags in the park. “The POW/MIA flag will need to be hung on one of the other flagpoles near the memorial arch,” the report reads. “The existing flagpoles at the memorial arch are in good condition and will not need replacement.”
Additionally, at the western corner of the Village park, in the smaller triangle, the existing LifeSavers sign is overcrowded with other signs and could benefit from relocating these smaller signs or integrating them into the LifeSavers sign.
The total estimated cost to implement the aforementioned recommendations is $152, 685.
The grant funds through Senator Ritchie’s will aid the Village of Gouverneur in developing a compelling park to serve the community now and into the future.