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2012 Award of Merit -English Park Scenic Overlook and Boat Ramp
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Project Category: Open Space

Project Name: English Park Scenic Overlook and Boat Ramp

Project Location: Owensboro, Kentucky

Date of Completion: 2007

Landscape Architect:  EDSA, Inc. - (www.edsaplan.com

Owner:  City of Owensboro

Tony Cecil – Manager of Operations

Joe Schepers – City Engineer

The English Park Scenic Overlook and Boat Ramp transformed an underutilized open space in Owensboro, Kentucky along the Ohio River into a revitalized riverfront park that sparked neighborhood redevelopment and has become a favorite open space. The landscape architect was able to illustrate to the City the unlocked potential for the riverfront site through a conceptual planning and visioning process.  At the onset of the project, the City’s scope required only an engineer, as the primary focus was limited to major infrastructure improvements.

The landscape architect had developed an existing relationship with the City through their efforts in creating a successful riverfront master plan.  As a result of this relationship and the planning process, the landscape architect became an integral member of the design team.

The landscape architect worked alongside the City for nearly a decade to implement the master plan’s guiding principles. One of the guiding principles of the Master Plan was to relocate a boat ramp from the downtown to a new site allowing for increased downtown riverfront re-development opportunities.  The landscape architect had previously assisted the City with a similar process that has resulted in the implementation of two strategic public improvement projects also outlined in the master plan’s guiding principles.

The continued involvement of the landscape architect in the overall Riverfront District Development has allowed continuity between the first two implementation projects and the 12-acre English Park Scenic Overlook and Boat Ramp. This continuity is most noticeable in the attention to detail within the park, which includes the combination of native plant materials, local stone and craftsmanship, custom detailing in the paving and hand railing, contemporary site furnishings, and memorable pavilions and site structures.  The use of these elements combined with the influence of the river creates a concept and setting that is functional, beautiful and engaging. 

Identified early as a primary concern for the surrounding neighborhoods, accessibility to the river was included in the project in multiple forms. For pedestrians, a curvilinear ramp/walkway and stairway provides access to the waterfront. More than functional, the ramp and walkway continue the design concept and influence of the river through a simulated wave pattern that sweeps through the park allowing ADA access to all levels. Vehicular access provides safe travel from the top of the river bank to the water’s edge as well as an opportunity for drop-off and parking at the waterfront destination.

Equally as important to increased accessibility is the strong physical and visual connection to the river and enhanced opportunities for views. A large terraced lawn area allows picnic-style seating or the use of the serpentine seat walls to informally view the river. Members of the community have already used the park for weddings. These rolling terrace areas also provide opportunities for larger gatherings to view special events along the river. Park benches are tucked along the top of the river bank beneath trees to provide shade while visitors enjoy a broader view of the park and riverfront. A turnaround and drop-off area allows passengers to view the river, while the adjoining pavilion provides a picture-frame view. A mid-bank overlook is noted as the neighbor’s favorite place to sit and enjoy all the beauty of the river in an intimate, more formal setting. 

The addition of the park improvements has provided an aesthetic value to the residents, especially the surrounding neighborhood, which has benefited the most. The design elements described above have created a positive impact by providing an amenity for the neighborhood. The improvements have also had an impact on private development in the area. The adjacent land values and properties have increased with the completion of the park; and recently an adjacent property completed construction on a townhome product facing the park and river. The demand for the product was so great the developer doubled the overall size of the development project and property values have grown, even with the current economic conditions in the US. 

The landscape architect’s involvement involved the project from a functional boat ramp to a much broader community initiative. The English Park Scenic Overlook and Boat Ramp celebrate the natural environment and realization of an open space and parks through leisure, heritage, and civic appreciation. This holistic design approach and implementation process, integrated into the context of the Riverfront District Master Plan, has successfully reconnected the people of this fine City to each other and their riverfront. 

Credits:

Civil & Structural Engineering:  Frank Gianotti - Tetra Tech

Construction Administration:  Ted Lolley - Ted Lolley & Associates, LLC 

Construction:  Deig Bros. Construction

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