Mallard Park Pond, a six-acre stretch of green space, is next on the city's to-do list as part of the Park and Playground Improvement Program. The city has budgeted $66,000 for park upgrades that could include playground equipment, landscaped areas with benches and a trail bordering the park.
Troy Christiansen, 11, and Brandon Kilpatrick, 12, focused their energy Tuesday on drawing in intricate detail all the cool things they’d like to see at an upgraded Mallard Pond Park on Dover’s west side.
The boys were drawing when Hubert Daniel strolled over from his Caroline Place house, which looks out over the peaceful pond that gives the park its name. Daniel said he wanted to see what changes Dover Parks & Recreation had planned.
A few minutes later, Andrea Pierce, who lives in Brandywine Court Condos, grilled city employees about what the proposed changes would mean to her and others. The park literally is in their backyards.
The park sits in the middle of a cluster of houses, apartments and condos including Brandywine Court, the Fox Hall West addition and the Heatherfield East, all neighborhoods located off Del. Route 8.
The six-acre stretch of green space is next on the city’s to-do list as part of the Park and Playground Improvement Program. The city has budgeted $66,000 for park upgrades that could include playground equipment, landscaped areas with benches and a trail bordering the park.
Silver Lake Park was the first park the city upgraded as part of its improvement program, according to Carolyn Courtney of the Dover Parks and Recreation Department. Courtney emphasized that plans for Mallard Pond Park are not on the same scale as what was done at Silver Lake.
“It is not meant to be like, say a Silver Lake Park, which is a larger community park,” she said before the open house. “This is really meant for the residents of these local areas.”
Courtney said the idea is to have residents stroll over from nearby communities to bring their kids to play on playground equipment, walk their dogs or just enjoy the park.
Around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Daniel and two of his neighbors followed a small paved path from their street to the park. Daniel said he has lived in what he called a quiet community for 11 years and he wants to make sure the upgrades to the park don’t change the community’s atmosphere.
“If it gets too wild obviously that will be a distraction,” he said.
At the open house, Daniel munched on a cookie, sipped punch and chatted with the 20 or so neighbors who attended.
Nearby, Troy and Brandon sat at a table paging through playground equipment catalogs. Using colored paper, pens and crayons, they created their vision of what the park could be.
Troy said he’s hoping for a place to play baseball. His mother, Beth Christiansen, said she’s eager for the city to improve the park that currently includes just open space with a few rusted barbecue grills.
“It’s a great idea,” she said. “It [would be] a place for the kids to go.”
Brandon’s mom, Christina, said when they moved to the area almost a decade ago, she wanted a park with the amenities that the city is now proposing. She said it’s better late than never.
Cindy Van Sant, Milford Becton and others who live in Brandywine Court gathered with Pierce to look at large maps of the park that include a proposal for a walking trail.
They grew more animated as they talked among themselves. Pierce said there are already problems with people gathering at the park, drinking, making noise and parking in the condo’s parking area.
“I’m really concerned,” she said. They want to put walking paths through, which will create more foot traffic when there’s already a problem with foot traffic.”
When Ann Marie Townshend, the city’s director of planning and community development, joined the group, they peppered her with questions.
Townshend said the park upgrades are still in the proposal stage and assured the group that their concerns would be taken into consideration before any final decision is made.
Pierce said she thought the park and all the upgrades were “a done deal.”
“Obviously, reasonable people can disagree,” Townshend said.
On Wednesday, Townshend said via email that officials didn’t go to the meeting with a “real concept of what would be proposed” for the park upgrades.
“We knew we had funding for playground equipment, and through the bicycle and pedestrian planning process, we determined that a paved pathway connection was something worth exploring, but we wanted to get neighbor feedback before going too far with any plans,” she said.
After hearing the comments at the open house, city officials will now consider adding parking and lighting to the plan. However, only the playground is currently funded, so any other improvements will have to be developed over a longer term than this year, she added.
Townshend said her staff will develop a sketch for where to put the playground and how to address other potential amenities. The proposal will then be presented to the Parks, Recreation & Community Enhancement Committee for feedback and authorization to move forward.
Townshend said she expects to have a proposal ready to present at the committee’s Sept. 8 meeting.
The committee “will make a recommendation to City Council, who ultimately will make the decision [about the park,]” Townshend said.