If you can design/build a beautiful park and create 90 parking spaces, that would be a home run. Lafayette Street Park enters the next phase.
The initial meeting of the revamped Lafayette Street park planning committee was held Thursday afternoon at Cape May city council chambers. Deputy Mayor Shaine Meier and Council Woman Bea Pessagno chaired the committee introducing plans for the next phases of the park’s concept.
Phase one included the remediation of the JCP&L site. JCP&L owned the site of a former coal gasification plant, which left contaminants in the soil. The company removed a layer of soil and constructed a containment wall for the affected area, before replacing the soil last year.
“JCP&L expects to be completely done their end of the project by May 31st of this year,” reported Deputy Mayor Meier. Representatives of Mott Macdonald, the City’s engineering firm, said the only concern once remediation was completed would be how deep foundations would need to be dug.
MacDonald’s responsibility included creating surveys, base maps and wetland studies surrounding the proposed park. They have also coordinated with JCP&L on the remediation.
James Rutala, the principal at Rutala Associates, LLC, was hired by the city to consider options for concept planning for the park. “Perhaps one of the most significant changes is an increase in the parking available and the movement of egress to and from the parking off Lafayette Street. An “L shape” design would move cars onto the side street at Jefferson for access to parking” said Rutula.
The concept also expands the baseball field to regulation size, maintains multiple sports areas including basketball, soccer, and tennis, and integrates the active portions of the park with a more passive natural park of existing trails through 11 acres of wetlands at the park of the total 40 acres.
Cape May School Board Involved in Process
Cape May School Board President Dawn Austin expressed concern about being kept up to date with changes surrounding the parks conceptual design. “The board of education wants to work with this committee and see this project move forward.” Austin said. “These plans are drastically different from the original, we need to take these concepts back to our board to decide upon and get moving as quickly as possible.”
The School Board’s next meeting is on March 22nd. Shaine Meier asked if the Board would be interested in having more of the activity oriented features moved closer to the school?
The present plans include an adult softball field with a 290 foot center field line. Basketball courts and tennis courts surrounded by 10 foot high chain link, and a dog park with a shade structure.
Rutula cautioned that building structures like bathrooms is prohibited on land purchased with Blue Acres grant monies.
Approximately $500,000.00 in Green Acres and $250,000.00 in Department of Transportation grant money is involved in the park development.
The committee is careful to preserve the Wise, Anderson and Dellas’ families history in the redesign of Lafayette Park.
Cape May Shade Tree Commission Role
Cape May Shade Tree commission members, Jay Schatz and Mark Pasck discussed the idea of planting fifth generation American Chestnut Tree seedlings. “We could include the elementary school students in the planting,” Deputy Mayor Meier suggested.
In addition to the ball field and activity areas, a future memorial garden and picnic area was proposed.
The overall estimate of completing the entire project was $7 million dollars. In 2016 Cape May City Council approved a bond ordinance of $1.5 million dollars at the November 14th public hearing. There was no public comment at that meeting.
Cape May School Board President Austin said the board was excited to work with the city and was eager to present the plans to the whole School Board for their input. Another committee meeting will be planned after the school board meets.