Pumpkins, fireworks, movies and Bruce pitched for Morristown’s Pioneer Park

Ken Smith shows off his latest creation…. a spot in town where anything goes, but only small shrubs may grow. Pioneer Park is settled on top of the Headquarters’ Plaza parking garage and therefore yields limited soil for garden and plant growth. Designers and agricultural architects are thinking of clever ways to bring a little green to the park located catty corner from the Green. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
Ken Smith shows off his latest creation…. a spot in town where anything goes, but only small shrubs may grow. Pioneer Park is settled on top of the Headquarters’ Plaza parking garage and therefore yields limited soil for garden and plant growth. Designers and agricultural architects are thinking of clever ways to bring a little green to the park located catty corner from the Green. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
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By Maryanne Saxon

Wind, weddings and weight were just a few of the hot topics at Monday’s planning workshop regarding the Pioneer Park renovation.

Architect Ken Smith and members of the Morristown planning board welcomed the public’s comments, questions and inspirations as they embarked on creation of an oasis in what for years has been a barren, underutilized space.

Town Planner Phil Abramson was pleased with the night’s turnout.

“I am thankful so many people came out tonight.  What we have now is simply a background, what we want to hear from all of the people is what life we can bring to the space to make it a functional, livable space.”

Ken Smith shows off his latest creation…. a spot in town where anything goes, but only small shrubs may grow. Pioneer Park is settled on top of the Headquarters’ Plaza parking garage and therefore yields limited soil for garden and plant growth. Designers and agricultural architects are thinking of clever ways to bring a little green to the park located catty corner from the Green.  Photo by Maryanne Saxon
Ken Smith shows off his latest creation…. a spot in town where anything goes, but only small shrubs may grow. Pioneer Park is settled on top of the Headquarters’ Plaza parking garage and therefore yields limited soil for garden and plant growth. Designers and agricultural architects are thinking of clever ways to bring a little green to the park located catty corner from the Green. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

Possibilities seemed endless for the updated plaza. Smith and his team displayed designs highlighting pumpkin festivals, fireworks displays, wedding receptions and movie nights.

Meeting attendees talked of walking paths, food trucks and cozy outdoor seating. Someone even suggested christening the renovated space with a Bruce Springsteen concert. A  town can dream, right?

One resident was curious about how daily life would look in the updated space.

“Well,” responded Abramson, “what does YOUR daily life look like?”

The meeting’s purpose was to solicit public feedback. Planners want to know what will draw the thriving life on the Morristown Green toward what historically has been a “dead spot.”

DEAR SANTA, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A NEW CROSSWALK

One of the concerns Smith has encountered in the design stages is how to create a more direct route to the plaza.

There is no easy way for pedestrians to move from the Morristown Green to the Plaza or from North Park Place to the plaza.

With a proper crosswalk in place, however, entering Pioneer Park could be as easy as walking down North Park Place and crossing Speedwell. The fact that Route 202 is a state road and not a local one means some negotiations with the state are necessary.

Another major obstacle Smith and his “architectural workshop” must overcome is the wind. Once they figure out how to get people to the new hot spot in town… they must learn how to keep them from blowing away.

Nestled between two towers, the plaza sits in a prime wind tunnel and continually is impacted by wind flowing up from Evergreen Cemetery on Martin Luther King Ave.

Meeting-goers were encouraged to fill out Post-It notes with recommendations for re-designing the space. Representatives from local businesses joined several town officials, members of Grow it Green Morristown, and residents to share ideas, insights and enthusiasm.

“Everyone has been very open minded and trusting as we work through the designing process,” said Abramson.

This venture is a collaborative effort of the Olnick Organization and Fisher Developers, Morristown residents, town elected officials, and Ken Smith Architects.

Stay tuned to MorristownGreen.com for more news about Pioneer Park.

A Ken Smith design of Pioneer Park featuring a Friday night flick. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
A Ken Smith design of Pioneer Park featuring a Friday night flick. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

 

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. One more quick comment. Ken Smith is trained and certified as a Landscape Architect, not an “Architect”
    Ones should be referred to as an “Architect”, if they hold that license. He is also considered an designer and maybe a sculptor.

  2. It was a good gathering but also the first one yet a fairly developed design was already being presented before hearing any of the community input. This fact along with many comments to the side reflected a perception that the design is currently fulfilling the desires of building tenants- catered events, not the public activities that should be the main focus. I didn’t read all the post-its, but for example, comments about making terraced steps from Martin Luther King- could be part of a walking path connecting to Patriot’s Path and other circuits around town- the Green, the Early St garden. Some suggested medallions marking distance walked, and some more recreational things such as a sculptural adult jungle jim- or area for calisthenic type exercise while walking- simlar to the one near Seaton Hackney stables. How about a community fire pit for campfires, and many felt the structure was too flat, that there is a need for a permanent raised covered stage. Wind is an issue, and one might consider moving the roof structures over against the building facades to break the down draft. Overall, the concept should be tied into the facade re-design along Speedwell- use of some well detailed brick, arches, lighting, to warm it up and give some pedestrian scale. Overall I felt most of the time the space will still be under used as the design is now. I worry the process is being pushed too fast. There was talk that this might be the only community input, then to Planning Board, but they may have one more.

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