Plan to unite to turn Nelson’s property into a public park

A consensus plan emerged that would transform the former Nelson property and the adjacent town marina.

Baileys Harbor City Council earlier this month accepted the preliminary plan to convert the former Nelson property into a public park. Voters overwhelmingly approved the purchase at the city’s annual meeting.

The consensus plan was presented by Greg Weykamp, ​​design director of Edgewater Resources, the consulting firm the city hired to develop the master plan for the space.

“We had this process that we call ongoing community involvement, so everything we did — the whole design process — was really in the public eye,” Weykamp said.

An aerial view of the marina and former Nelson property buildings as they currently exist. Source: Edgewater Resources.

On May 16, the first community meeting took place to present the project and gather initial thoughts from the public. On May 17, an initial concept review session was held, followed by a consensus plan review session on June 9. Members of local organizations and homeowners associations, municipal leaders and business owners also participated in one-on-one meetings with stakeholders.

Over the course of these meetings, a consensus emerged: most citizens wanted a public green space from which they could see the water. Many have also prioritized sustainable design and the preservation of the region’s natural biodiversity and dark skies.

The project’s final concept reflects these priorities, with the proposed oval-shaped ADA-compliant green space featuring a new public restroom and outdoor bandshell.

Other features include a boat launch with additional staging area, fuel dock, and beach access with a stepped waterfront promenade. A kayak launch is also planned for the beach in front of the new park. For children, the concept includes a flat paddling pool with jet fountains that becomes a plaza when the jets are turned off.

A partial rendering of the public road. Source: Edgewater Resources.

To accommodate people driving to the new space, the concept includes traffic changes, drop-offs or sidewalk extensions to two high-traffic crosswalks along Highway 57, and additional parking, including about 14 marina berths and another 22 across the street.

The proposal also includes a new boater services building, which would be taller than the existing one but lower to maintain an unobstructed view of the water. The flat, green roof of the new building would be surrounded by a thin balustrade and covered with chairs and tables.

“The next design layer, you really get into the nuts and bolts and the special little features that tell the stories,” Weykamp said. “At the moment, it’s still about programs and high costs.”

Estimates have been developed for the concept as designed. Phase 1 of the plan, which includes the demolition and improvement of the park, is estimated at $1.87 million. Phase 2 of the plan would include parking and drop-offs, estimated at $200,000. Other items to prioritize include breakwater/beach upgrades at $1.34 million, boat ramp relocation and boater services building at $2.7 million , plus additional docks and fuel system at $930,000.

City Nelson Property Ad Hoc Committee also submitted a Request for Proposals (RFP) to Baileys Harbor City Council to relocate the freestanding garage from the Nelson property. The council approved the proposal, allowing any citizen to apply to move the garage.

The committee also submitted a request for proposals to demolish the other structures on the Nelson property that are too large to move, which was also approved at the July 11 city council meeting.

The next step is for Edgewater Resources to work with the ad hoc committee on updating cost estimates and budgets, seeking grants, and prioritizing project features.

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