Plans for a renovated, better-connected Rinconada Park in Palo Alto are underway, but residents won't see major changes any time soon.
"The park will look the way it does now for another decade," said city landscape architect Peter Jensen during a Public Art Commission meeting Thursday, June 21. "It will be two decades, maybe three, before we get it to the way it is on the master plan."
At the meeting, Derek McKee of Verde Designs, the city's consultant for the project, presented to the city's public art commission three design concepts that would significantly change the park's layout.
Aspects of the concepts will later be distilled into a single long-range plan for the next few decades. The goal of the plan is to provide a guide for future improvement and renovation of the park.
In order to spread out the cost and labor for the project, the park's renovation will be broken up into several phases. The planning phase for the project will be completed in February 2013, but actual construction on the first phase won't begin until 2015, when capital improvement funds become available for use on the park.
The first-phase improvements will mainly involve practical changes, such as replacing aging asphalt, adding irrigation and lighting, and making some parts of the park more accessible for those with disabilities.
Subsequent phases will occur every two to three years after phase one.
One of the priorities of the plan was to better connect the amenities that surround the park, such as the Lucie Stern Community Center, the Palo Alto Art Center, the Junior Museum and Zoo and the Rinconada Pool.
Each of the concepts adds a central path that runs from east to west, which acts as a "spine" to connect these different elements, McKee said.
Each concept also includes renovated parking areas, room for an expanded Junior Museum and Zoo and larger, well-defined entrances. Many of these concepts were crafted in response to community feedback, he said.
Concept one includes an expanded amphitheater area, a wedding and special site area, and children and "tot" play areas. (View concept one plan -- PDF)
Concept two includes a different amphitheater and special site arrangement, and an eastern entrance between the Girl Scout house and Junior Museum and Zoo. In order to accommodate this plan, the Girl Scout house would have to be rotated 90 degrees, which was not met favorably at a community meeting to discuss the changes on June 5, McKee said. (View concept two plan -- PDF)
Concept three has the most direct, linear path from east to west with a new larger support building between the pool and tennis areas as well as a central plaza that McKee said could include a fountain or sizable piece of art. This concept's western entrance opening to Newell Road is much grander than in the other two concepts, McKee said. (View concept three plan -- PDF)
"It's exciting because there are so many possibilities to visibly transform the landscape and design of the space," said Larisa Usich, vice chair for the commission.