Landscapes of history

Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee reviews proposal

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Tim Adams, of Stony Creek Landscapes, presents a potential landscaping plan for Wilson Brewer Park during the Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee meeting Tuesday morning at city hall.

A proposal for landscaping design for Wilson Brewer Park was observed by the Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee Tuesday morning. Tim Adams, of Stony Creek Landscapes, presented a possible park projection for the committee to look over.

“The key item today is Tim Adams and his landscaping ideas and thoughts on how the grounds are to be designed and looked at,” said Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee Chairman Gary Groves.

Adams based his proposed design off of prior comments from the committee and members of the community. The park is situated on roughly 4.5 acres. Adams chose to utilize just under four acres of the park.

“We came up with some things we could do relatively inexpensively and make the site more inviting,” said Adams. “We talked about pathways, traffic for JunqueFest and so on.”

Adams touched on multiple design items to work on at the park. Pathways, parking, and design elements by the buildings on-site were the key elements focused on by Adams.

Adams designed an eight-foot pathway to run through the park. The pathway would be large enough to accommodate two wheelchairs passing one another and a larger vehicle if needed for snow removal. According to Adams, the best material for the pathway would be concrete because it is less expensive than brick and requires little to no yearly maintenance.

“We decided concrete was probably going to be the most hassle-free, long-term, easy-to-repair method to use,” said Adams.

Adams also proposed adding a selection of nodes to intersection pathways at the park. Historical artifacts can be displayed in the center of these circular, brick nodes. Visitors to the park will be able to view the artifacts up close without impeding the pathway traffic. The nodes would be an estimated 20 feet in diameter.

“We’re talking about a circular brick area that has these elements raised up off the ground,” said Adams.

It was proposed by Adams to add more parking to the site. This includes adding more parking stalls, two or three handicapped stalls, and paving one of the two current parking lots at the park.

“I think parking is going to be an issue,” Adams said. “It’s the most basic issue.”

The planting of a selection of memorial trees throughout the park was another idea Adams had to enhance the look of the park and help fund the rehabilitation project. He also suggested removing a few trees that are in bad shape or poorly placed.

Adams explained the need to look towards landscaping with upkeep in mind.

“Everything needs maintenance. There is no such thing as no maintenance,” said Adams.

He cautioned the committee to not limit the park’s design potential based on snow removal.

“Don’t let snow removal dictate good design,” Adams said.

Throughout the presentation committee members and other meeting attendees provided feedback on Adams’ proposed design. Individuals also added their own ideas on how to improve the landscape of Wilson Brewer Park.

JunqueFest coordinator Mike Constant brought up concerns with the proposed walkways. He explained that due to how vendors are positioned at the park during JunqueFest, the proposed pathways would make it difficult to place vendors on site. Adams said that he would be happy to meet with Constant to compare JunqueFest plans with his proposed park plan.

The committee will take a more in-depth look at the landscape design proposal Adams prepared and continue modification. No action on the landscape design proposal was taken.

According to Groves, the committee’s main two focuses are gathering pledges and donations and retrieving the correct numbers for the total park rehabilitation project.

“We’re pulling together these figures. Stein has given us an estimate and we have estimates on the cabins,” said Groves. Stein’s estimates concern the heating and cooling of each building. When it comes to the cabins, we’re talking about insulating the cabins so they don’t freeze.”

“The fundraising effort is going to be undertaken here probably in the early part of next year. Once we get the plans drawn, we’ll get the cost assessed and start putting out to the public our program,” Groves said. “What I want people to understand, is that we’re coming to the end of the year, and if anyone would like to make a contribution to the park before the end of the year they can do that.”

Donations are tax deductible. Checks can be made out to Wilson Brewer Park. The check would go to Kent Harfst. Individuals can specify where they want their money to go to. They can designate a building, pavers, and more with their donation.

“If they want to start off a kick off, that would be greatly appreciated here,” said Groves. “It would give us something to start with as we move into next year.”

Architect Doug Steinmetz was also going to be present at the meeting, but was unable to attend. Steinmetz emailed a packet to Webster City Recreation and Public Grounds Director Kent Harfst in place of his absence. The email included a scope of proposed services Steinmetz could provide for Wilson Brewer Park.

The services proposed included pre-planning and the schematic design of six buildings on-site at Wilson Brewer Park. The six buildings listed on the proposed possible outline are the Wilson Brewer Cabin, Jameson Cabin, Harmony Center School, Mulberry Center Church, First Hamilton County Courthouse, and the Depot. The proposed pre-planning would consist of a field measure, baseline drawings, and preliminary observations for the six aforementioned buildings. The proposed schematic design would consist of drafting, code review, coordination with structural and landscape consultants, and the scope of rehabilitation work.

“It’s my understanding, to have a full design on this would be $19,400,” said Harfst. “That design would include a design of all the buildings, what needs to be done, as well as he would have some estimated costs of what each building would cost to fix up.”

Steinmetz also provided a sample of prior work he completed at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds.

According to Harfst, Steinmetz is willing to come to Webster City to go over his proposed plan of services in the near future.

Groves suggested a special meeting in January to further discuss Steinmetz’ proposal with Steinmetz present. The motion was tabled and no action was taken regarding the information Steinmetz provided in the proposal.

“I want to know what he is going to give us for this kind of money and if it’s worth it,” Groves said.

Carolyn Miller requested the Mulberry Center Church website, be linked to The Knot wedding website in an effort to increase the number of weddings held at the venue. Miller volunteered to donate the funds for a one-year trial subscription to The Knot. The cost for a one-year subscription is $663. The request was approved by the committee.