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Pershing Square Getting Palm Court Improvement, Plus a Dog Park?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, October 03, 2008, at 11:22AM
Pershing Square's Palm Court Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Pershing Square's Palm Court, home to the park's eclectic collection of statues.

The city's Park Commissioners hope the second time's the charm for Pershing Square's Palm Court. The commission again approved improvements for the 5th and Hill corner of the park this morning, this time without controversial exercise equipment. The first approval was scuttled by community outcry back in June.

Staff from Recreation and Parks also spoke of plans for a dog park on the south end of Pershing Square. That project would take approximately two years to implement. The department will begin the public outreach process this upcoming week.

$190,000 in improvements for Pershing Square's Palm Court were first approved back in June. The area, located on the northeast corner of the park and home to its collection of statues, was to receive landscaping, smart irrigation and exercise equipment.

After blogdowntown covered the plan, community criticism was quick and loud. The story generated 113 comments, the vast majority opposing the project. Councilwoman Jan Perry's office stepped in, and council asked the Parks commission to reconsider.

Commission chair Barry Sanders this morning said that the department failed to adequately vet the project through the community before its approval. "There was little -- though not none -- community discussion before this was done," he said. "I believe there was too little." Sanders acknowledged the uproar "on the blogs" over the project.

This time, the commission approved a project that keeps the landscaping improvements but drops the exercise equipment. Roughly $40,000 would be shaved from the cost, which is to be paid out of Quimby fees generated by nearby development.

DLANC President Russell Brown, a member of the Pershing Square Park Advisory Board, told the commission that the park represents "a unique opportunity, but also a unique challenge." Developer Dan Schwartz, president of the Advisory Board, thanked the commission and Sanders in particular for their willingness to rework the plan to fit what the community really wants.

One thing high on the community's list is a dog park, and department staff today outlined plans for a fenced in dog park that would replace the seating area on the south end of the park. Renderings show K9 grass, an artificial turf designed fight odor and bacteria, suspended over a bulked up drainage system. The park would feature two dog drinking fountains and incorporate twelve existing trees.

DLANC's Parks, Recreation and Open Space committee will be discussing the dog park at its meeting on Monday, October 6. The department will officially present the plan to the Pershing Square Park Advisory Board on Wednesday, October 8.

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