By Kendall Sparks
7:47 PM EST, February 8, 2013
When the Project 1107 forum at the Winchester Opera House began Thursday night, Jen Algire opened with a solid idea for the future of the land at 1107 W. Lexington Ave.
“We want to create an iconic space that will establish a legacy of well-being in Clark County,” said Algire, director of the Clark Regional Foundation for Promotion of Health.
Elise Hufano, managing director of Hufano & Associates and the facilitator of the meeting, began with a quote: “There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
Algire and Hufano emphasized the need for a rigorous and disciplined planning process for the space that will be left upon the demolition of the old hospital. They constructed the meeting with guiding principles of an inspirational and educational plan that incorporates public art, environmentally-friendly infrastructure, and cultural and economical values.
The large group in attendance, including many prominent community leaders, split into three smaller groups called tradeshows. Melody Jackson, a local designer and artist, led the first group in a discussion of site analysis.
“1107 is a marvelous piece of property,” Jackson said. “The location is amazing and accessible. I think it’s important to play up what’s already there, including the trees and the other natural features.”
Jackson’s group discussion placed emphasis on the idea of a greenspace, a place where people can come and enjoy nature and take part in the project’s initial theme, which is wellness in the community. The group discussion also included the multiple entries to the space, including vehicular entry, which can be obtained from Lexington Avenue and possibly Interstate 64, and pedestrian entry, which can be accessed from both sides of the land. This group also brought up the 48-foot storm pipe that runs through the property, which can aid in the creation of water features.
Ned Crankshaw led the second group, which discussed the “Power of 10.”
“The ‘Power of 10’ is the idea that a public place with lots of activity will work best,” said Crankshaw. “This town has made great strides with the walking trails, but they’re ‘Power of One’ kinds of things. This public space has more opportunities, and the more there is to do there, the better it will be.”
Crankshaw’s “Power of 10” discussion included community physical and mental health, contact with nature, social interaction and economic values.
In the third and final group, Mark Arnold led a discussion about iconic landscapes. He used visual aids that included Central Park, the City Garden of St. Louis, Mo., and the Parc de la Villette in Paris, France.
“With iconic places like these, you know where they are, even if you haven’t been there before,” Arnold said. “Project 1107 has 30 acres, and the sky’s the limit.”
This group showed excitement toward a non-seasonal, open year-round space, like Central Park, and a place where architecture and art tells the story of the city, like the St. Louis City Garden.
“The space needs to be dynamic. Community gardens are all about bringing families together,” Arnold said.
Upon completion of the tradeshows, the conversation rounds began. A pre-determined question was posed to each table, and the groups enjoyed a light dinner while discussing and recording replies to their table’s question. Categories included recreational, educational and cultural activities for the space, features that will reflect Winchester history, things that will promote wellness, community pride, economic value and aesthetics.
Each table produced a variety of ideas, especially after one rotation.
“My daughter, Cora Kerber, is a teen member of the advisory committee for Project 1107,” said Julie Kerber. “Her Gold Award project for Girl Scouts is to turn this space into a dog-friendly park. We would love to have a dog-friendly area in Winchester,” she said.
Besides the dog park, other ideas for the space included an ampitheater, an ice rink, a hospital memorial, a pavillion with food vendors, a landscaped hill used for playing in the summer and tubing in the winter, an outdoor museum, a playground, a stargazing area and a light garden. There was a consensus among the group that this space will be all-inclusive; people of all ages, day and night, can come and enjoy the property.
Near the end of the session, the directors put together a categorized list of top 10 themes in which there was interest. “Winchester Green,” a term some used for the idea of a greenspace, was popular as a promotion of wellness. Many people were focused on diversity but not so much on sports. It was clearly important to the community that this space be turned into something inspirational and inviting, not something redundant and boring.
Mike Rowady, a longtime Winchester lawyer, first came to the meeting with a bad feeling.
“I came in with considerable misgivings about this. In the past, I feel like there was a lack of leadership and new ideas, but tonight has been a breath of fresh air. It’s new and exciting, and I can see better days ahead. This is the most refreshing thing to happen in Winchester.”
Algire was pleased with the turnout and the production of ideas for the meeting.
“Everyone exceeded my expectations, and I’m thrilled and blessed to be a part of this community. Now that this is over, there will be an interactive session with the young people in the community.” Algire also suggested everyone “like” Project 1107 on Facebook, which is another way to reach out to younger people so they can take part in the creation of something that will equally affect their lives.
The actionable master plan is expected to commence in early summer after some final decisions are made about the land.
Contact Kendall Sparks at email@example.com