Community for the Commons

Community for the Commons has created a master plan to refresh the Excelsior Commons park. The first project is the bandshell. Using feedback from the community, the nonprofit worked with a design team to come up with a plan. Now, the group is close to having a draft to share with the public and plans an online opportunity for public engagement sometime in August.

Community for the Commons, along with residents, created a master plan to refresh the Excelsior Commons park, according to Eric Snyder, chair of the Community for the Commons board. The plan was broken into phases and the bandshell was decided to be the first project.

The nonprofit received feedback from the community on what the bandshell should look like. People came to a consensus that a new structure should be about the same size as the current structure, Snyder said. The big enhancement will be making it a multipurpose structure that can be used for many things throughout the year.

For the past year, Community for the Commons leaders have worked with a design team on the bandshell as well as a construction company to get a quote and a construction timeline. They are close to having a draft to share with the public, Snyder said.

Public engagement

Once it has a final draft and revised budget, Community for the Commons will put together an online presentation and survey so members of the public can see the vision and details and have a chance to give feedback, Snyder said. The date is still being determined, but public engagement is expected to happen in August.

Due to the pandemic, public engagement most likely won’t be a face-to-face meeting, Snyder said. It will be an online presentation to view the plans and give feedback through a survey.

Going digital is helpful and allows people to engage when they have time, rather than having a set date and time for a town hall. An online survey makes it easy to quantify feedback, he said. But, Snyder misses the social interactions and positive energy the project brings to the community. It will be hard to replicate that until they can be back together, he said.

Snyder’s family has lived in the area for about 20 years. He has seen other attempts to renovate the bandshell that were unsuccessful. It is exciting to have the opportunity to obtain that goal with a plan that the public is behind, he said.

“It feels like the stars are finally aligning to be able to make some progress in the park,” Snyder said.

Not just Excelsior

Community for the Commons has gone out of its way to make sure residents from Excelsior and other nearby communities get their voices heard. While working on the plan, the nonprofit officials found that residents along the south side of the lake all think of the Excelsior Commons as their neighborhood park, he said.

Next steps

Once the community sees the design and feedback is collected, the designer will do one last version of the plan and the budget will be finalized. Then Community for the Commons will discuss how to jointly pay for the bandshell with the city, Snyder said.

Knowing the final budget, the city and nonprofit will revisit the financing plan. The city would need to accept the plan and financing to move forward and authorize city staff to find a firm to do the work, he said.

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