City of Upper Arlington, Ohio

Northam Park — Phase II Improvements

2015 Northam Park Master Plan Process  |  Phase II Budget SummaryContact Us  |  Register for eNews Updates

Updated May 3, 2016

Updated Schematics  |  May 2 Memorandum - Engagement Summary

Northam Phase II Rendering III

At the Monday, May 2, 2016 Council Conference Session, Capital Projects Manager Alan McKnight provided Council with an update of the Northam Park Phase II plans, following the second round of community engagement. The schematics shared with Council (click on the above link) show in greater detail the different components of the overall design for Phase II.

Based on the extensive feedback relative to the pool, the size was expanded—similar to the square footage of the old pool—to accommodate residents’ desired features such as more lap lanes, diving, a toddler area designated by a three foot-wide wall that can be used by lifeguards for supervision of both areas, shade, grassy areas and a small reserve-able shelter area. Some additional, low cost amenities were included to appeal to older youth, in the form of a climbing wall and play area. Support facilities, such as restrooms, changing areas, concessions, storage and mechanicals were designed to conform to code requirements and modern-day standards. The concession stand will be in a separate building adjacent to the sports fields so that pool and park users can purchase concessions, and will include restrooms that will be open to all park users.

The toddler pool area will be divided from the main pool by a walkway/lifeguard wall. While still part of the same filtration system as the main pool, the water will be cycled through this area more frequently. This decision was made for several reasons:

  • To work within a limited footprint while maximizing the size of the pool;
  • Modern-day public pools rarely feature a separate toddler pool, with many parents preferring to be in shallow water with their toddler while still able to watch and interact with their older children as they enjoy the rest of the pool;
  • Since 2012, the majority of “biohazard” incidents at UA’s public pools have occurred in the main pool areas (and not the toddler pool) are minimal and very few occur in toddler pools since toddlers wear special pool diapers;
  • To help save on construction and ongoing maintenance costs.

With an expanded pool footprint made necessary because of the feedback from residents, it will extend further south than the previous pool area. As a result, the new playground will be moved further south, closer to the Tremont Library. This keeps all the existing sports fields in play and will allow playground users to enjoy the shade of the existing, mature trees in the area. The design will allow for a variety of play structures, both traditional and more natural in nature—with room for expansion—and will feature a low, decorative fence along the parking lot side for child safety.

The park entry area includes a one-way drop-off lane set away from the main traffic area, to increase safety for families when unloading a car of children and recreational items for use in the pool or park. It also features a wide pedestrian walkway adjacent to this lane, with easy access to the pool entrance to the north and the playground to the south. The walkway area has been designed so that various features can be installed at the onset or incorporated over time. These include an overhead structure with seating below such as swinging benches, space for a privately funded Centennial History Walk, picnic tables and extensive landscaping.

Located immediately adjacent to the southeast side of the Library, the Reading Garden incorporates low cost landscaping enhancements, a raised seating wall, garden furniture, a flat lawn area and allows for inclusion of three sculptures already donated to the City by internationally renowned artist Alfred Tibor.

Community Engagement Outline

The City’s 2016 community engagement and communications process for the Northam Park Phase II planning project represents one of the most extensive efforts taken to date on a project of this size and nature. In late January and February of 2016, the City's consultant, OHM Advisors, conducted a series of outreach efforts that included three smaller, user-group meetings, two larger public meetings, an interactive workbook for Tremont Elementary students, as well as two focus groups and a scientific telephone survey of 300 households that was also made available to all residents as an online version. Residents responded to these efforts, with approximately 2,000 participations in this first round of engagement.

Key feedback received from this effort included:

  • Strong support for redeveloping Tremont Pool and a playground that is accessible to children of all abilities, with a focus on younger children and toddlers.
  • A focus on function and quality, not the latest fads.
  • Keep the entry area to the pool, playground and park simple.
  • A preference for a nature-based playground with multiple features.
  • Relative to the pools, priority programming included:
    • Lap swimming and diving
    • Shade and lawn areas
    • Include a separate toddler area
    • Heat the pool
    • Keep it true to the neighborhood feel of the old pool

This community input was incorporated into the Phase II schematic designs, in balance with other important factors such as site considerations, infrastructure, safety and accessibility, budget, and best practices.

The schematic designs were presented to the community in early April 2016, during a second round of community engagement that included two small user-group meetings, a larger public meeting, provision of the information on the City’s website and promotions via social media, the City’s e-newsletter and other available communications tools.

Fewer residents participated in the second round, as is often the case with community engagement efforts such as this, since many find it hard to make the time to attend multiple meetings and many assume that their input has been received and incorporated into the effort as a whole. Of the feedback that was received, a number felt that the design team had listened to residents and that the plans are reflective of broad community input, some had additional suggestions, some remained focused on their specific concerns. Additionally, statistics from the City’s monthly e-newsletters show that many more residents have viewed the schematic designs. For example, more than 2,200 residents clicked on the OHM Report to Council from the April Activity Link. Based on a statistic like this, we believe that Staff and Council would have heard from more residents if they were not happy with the plans than has been the case.

When putting the entire effort into perspective, with the expert support of OHM Advisors and its team, Staff is confident that we crafted a community engagement process that provided residents numerous opportunities for participation and successfully yielded the feedback needed in order to design facilities that will best meet the needs of the broader community. We believe the Northam Park Phase II plans will provide the citizens of Upper Arlington with high quality amenities that will be enjoyed by generations to come, and we eagerly anticipate the grand opening of the new Tremont Pool over the 2017 Memorial Day Weekend.

Community Engagement Update - Round 2
With the first round of outreach complete, OHM Advisors compiled the results from all the feedback received and began work on initial designs for the pool and playground. These designs were shared with the community and a second round of outreach win early April 2016:

Round 1 - Activities and Feedback
In late January and February of 2016, OHM Advisors conducted a series of outreach efforts that included smaller, user-group meetings, larger public meetings and a telephone survey. Our thanks to the many residents who participated in our recent community engagement phase of the Northam Park Phase II planning effort. We had close to 2,000 participations in this extensive outreach process. As we receive records and summaries from this first round of citizen engagement, we will be sharing these documents here.

About the Survey and Community Engagement Process
The City has full confidence in the Northam Park Phase II surveying services provided by Aimpoint, a sub-contractor of OHM Advisors. Aimpoint is a nationally recognized marketing research firm that has been in operation for more than 20 years, with an extensive list of municipal and state agency clients within the region and beyond. A UA resident whose profession is in scientific research for a non-profit research institute with no affiliation with Aimpoint recently reached out to the City. He was concerned that he was seeing some conversations on social media questioning the approach and methodology used by Aimpoint before the process had been completed. Of his own volition, he elected to undertake an assessment of the entire engagement process. This resident concluded that the engagement approach to date has been extensive, has targeted multiple populations (elementary students, park neighbors, seniors, etc.), and was designed as a multi-mode effort (focus groups, small/community meetings, telephone and online surveys, etc.) for securing resident participation. He also reached out directly to Aimpoint representatives as part of his review of the methodology used to conduct two focus groups and the telephone survey. He concluded that the process followed commonly accepted best practices within the surveying and market research industry.


Presentation to City Council on Northam Park - Tuesday, January 19, 2016
PowerPoint Presentation
With a renewed focus on the next steps for Northam Park as we begin the New Year, the first order of business was to provide the new City Council body with an update on a number of items to be sure that we are on the right path with our plans—which took place January 19, 2016. The first part of the update was from Parks & Recreation Advisory Board member Kate Diday, who led a special committee of Council charged with reviewing options for the tennis courts at Northam Park and prepared a report on behalf of this committee. Alan McKnight, Capital Projects Manager for parks improvements, provided an overview of the Northam Park – Phase II plans, along with details of the extensive, pre-design outreach and engagement phase that is about to begin. At different points throughout last year’s work on the Northam Park Master Plan, including discussions of the Council Special Committee relative to tennis court location, many residents expressed the need for a comprehensive parks review before undertaking any further significant changes to existing parks and park facilities such as those within Northam Park. Parks & Recreation Director Debbie McLaughlin discussed this idea with City Council and how such a process might be undertaken over the course of the coming year.

At the conclusion of the presentation and testimony from attending residents, members of Council indicated their support for the proposed approach and asked Staff to prepare a Motion to clarify that the only projects included within Phase II will be the new pool and playground, with some minor drainage improvements necessary to support these two improvements and any necessary walkway connections between the parking lot, main entry into the park and the pool and playground. Additionally the Motion will include language supporting a comprehensive review of all parks and facilities that will include extensive community input, in advance of any further decisions relative to programming and facility adjustments within our park system, Northam Park included. This Motion was shared with Council at the Monday, January 25, 2016 Council Meeting, with Council voting unanimously in favor of its adoption.

The Motion language is as follows:
Motion to direct the City Manager to move forward with only the Northam Park Phase II, which includes capital improvements related to the swimming pool, playground, and related infrastructure, as exhibited at the January 19th, 2016 meeting, and to also move forward with the City Manager’s recommendation of the Comprehensive Park Review process presented to Council on January 19th, 2016.

Phase II of the Northam Park Improvements is focused specifically on the new pool and playground and associated support infrastructure, such as walkways, park entry and support buildings. In response to resident feedback in 2015, the pool and playground amenities will be essentially located within the same footprint they previously occupied, to minimize impacts on other existing facilities and programming such as field sports, to preserve as many trees as possible, and to provide maximum flexibility for any future park improvements that may be made. Any drainage improvements made will be specific to the needs of the pool and playground.

Associated Documents

Date of Record: 2016-05-03