Home > The Playground > Harness water for play part of bayfront design

Harness water for play part of bayfront design

Ideas like natural playscapes are why I’m serving on Traverse City’s parks and recreation commission. Traverse City’s parks are really undeserved. We have over 30 of them and I’m sure we’ve all passed by at least one of them and said, “wow, I never knew a park was there.” We don’t notice them because they tend to be open grass lots without much to draw us in except for someone mowing them.

I trust that we can do better; the bayfront design currently underway will be different.

Harness Water for Play

(Image provided by URS)

There has been a concerted effort, beginning with the Your Bay, Your Say, to not just design something out of the box. There is a still over a month left before the final designs are due from the consultant URS Engineering, but during the month of May there will be a series of public meetings to show the work up to this point.

There is a lot of things to like in the design and one of them is the inclusion of some natural playscapes. The image of the child at the right is an example of an element that may be included in the old zoo property. During the charrette, it was brought to the attention of the design team that an artesian well is located nearby. Currently, it is piped and discharged into the marina harbor. What a waste!

What if we could harness that water into a meandering creek that is accessible for children to play in and around? With the right design this element could serve as an educational piece, environmental improvement (water may need some cleaning), addition of a pleasant noise scape, a focal point and still allow for interaction with children and families. It would define the place.

You can download the bayfront plans (PDF), but to really understand what is being designed it’s best to attend one of the presentations during the next month. Dates, times and locations are available via the press release (PDF) and below. I’ll also be writing about the bayfront plans over the next month to highlight key features that I think show intentional design and the potential for something special.

The next public meeting is this Sunday May 16 at 4PM at the Kids Creek neighborhood Ass. meeting at building 50.

All meetings :

  • May 16, 4 PM: Kids Creek Commons Neighborhood Association, Bld 50, GT Commons
  • May 18, 7 PM: Recreational Authority, County Cmmn Room, Gov Center
  • May 19, 7 PM: Planning Commission/Parks & Recreation, Cmmn Chambers, Gov Center
  • May 20, 7 PM: Old Towne Neighborhood, St. Francis Church, 1025 S. Union
  • May 21, 8 AM: DDA, Commission Chambers, Gov Center
  • May 24, 12 Noon: Traverse City Kiwanis Club at Traverse City Elks Club, 625 Bay St.
  • May 24, 7 PM: City Cmmn meeting, Commission Chambers, Gov Center

The concept above shows the creek flowing east through what's been offered as a possible new name for the zoo "the Con Foster Commons".

Oakland County's Waterford Oaks Park: much larger scale than what's being proposed for the bayfront, but how cool. Great description of the intention behind the park at the website.


  1. Lee Maynard
    May 13, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Way to go Oakland County!

    “‘Urban Green explores new and innovative ways for cities to add much-needed parks. The book offers many practical solutions, from reusing the land under defunct factories to sharing schoolyards, from building trails on abandoned tracks to planting community gardens, from decking parks over highways to allowing more activities in cemeteries, from eliminating parking lots to uncovering buried streams, and more. No strategy alone is perfect, and each has its own set of realities. But collectively they suggest a path toward making modern cities more beautiful, more sociable, more fun, more ecologically sound, and more successful.”

    Bummer, didn’t find it in our library’s catalog..


  2. Bill Palladino
    May 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Any entertainment/play/learning for children that doesn’t involve a battery or otherwise plugging something in is a great idea.

  3. Matthew Ross
    May 14, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I grew up only a few miles from Waterford Oaks Park. They also have a wave pool. I prefer the bay myself. If the artesian well can be used I think the kids will love it! I still have fond memories of the old little zoo though. I know that’s not real PC, but I loved taking my daughter there. I’m sure we will do something great in that area though.

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