City of Upper Arlington, Ohio

Northam Park Redevelopment—From Good to Great!

December 11, 2015 Update
The City wishes to clarify that on Monday night there is no action recommended by staff within the proposed 2016 budget that will change the course of Northam Park Improvements. The current direction from City Council is to replace the pool and playground which we are beginning to prepare for. Nothing in these preparations will limit Council's options regarding the precise location of the pool and playground. All preliminary work will be done in a way to maximize Council flexibility and options with respect to a final decision.

Additionally, nothing about field configuration or tennis court location will be decided by the general budget recommendations under consideration by Council. A report produced by the Council-appointed Special Committee has been reviewed by the Senior Advisory Council and the Library Administration. Both have expressed no preference with respect to tennis court location. The City intends to continue to work cooperatively with the Upper Arlington School Board to develop the best overall plan for the park and adjacent school property. We anticipate that Council will begin discussing this report mid-to-late January, with Council direction forthcoming at some point thereafter.

Plans for the final design process for the new pool and playground will include extensive opportunity for additional community input, with several different citizen engagement processes will be employed. We anticipate that this outreach process will begin early in the New Year.

 

The Evolution of the Northam Park Plans
November Schematics (shared at Open House)  |  August 7, 2015 Conceptual Plan
June 2015 Conceptual PlanDecember 2013 Master Plan Concept

We thought it might be useful to demonstrate in one place how the plans for Northam Park have been evolving since the creation of the Master Plan in December 2013. The above links show you various versions of the conceptual plans, each one adjusted in response to feedback from the community, park user groups and City leadership. We will expand this section in the near future to highlight some of the adjustments that have been made to the plan and why they have been changed.

 

Neighborhood Open House Summary
Comment CardsSummary of Comments
Click Here to View a Letter Mailed to Northam Park Neighbors  |  City Manager Blog
The Parks & Recreation Department hosted an Open House November 4 at the Senior Center to give neighbors and other interested residents an opportunity to learn more about the status of plans, ask questions relative to some misinformation that has been disseminated on the issue and share their thoughts. We have now included here the comment cards submitted at the Open House as well as a summary of these comments, please see the above links.

 

Northam Park Special Committee
Committee Report  |  Special Committee Meeting Details
Final Meeting of Special Committee - RESCHEDULED
6 p.m., Wednesday, October 28, UA Senior Center, Room 104
The Special Committee met one last time to review and vote on some minor updates to the draft report. Please check back for updates, to view the final report from the Special Committee and for a schedule for Council's deliberations on the recommendations.

In late August of this year—following City Council’s Resolution to proceed with implementation of the Northam Park Master Plan—the City Manager was charged with forming a special committee to further consider options for the Northam Park Tennis Courts, in the hopes of identifying an optimum location for this facility. The committee was comprised of the Field Sports Advisory Group and representatives from the Northam Park Tennis Advisory Committee, Upper Arlington Schools, the City’s Parks & Recreation Department, the Upper Arlington Community Foundation, the Upper Arlington Civic Association and our consultants at MKSK. This group met four times, with its final meeting held the evening of Thursday, October 1, 2015.

After consideration of the viable options within the group’s charge from Council, the Committee reached the following conclusions:

  • A majority was in favor of relocating the tennis courts to Thompson Park, with the understanding that additional community engagement and a master planning process for the park would occur.
  • Assuming that Council would concur with this recommendation—and again subject to a community-involved master planning process—the majority believed an optimum location for a new har-tru tennis court facility (comprised of 10 courts) at Thompson Park would be at the site of the existing hard surface tennis courts.
  • Should Council choose to keep the courts at Northam Park, the majority preferred locating them in the northeast quadrant of the park, adjacent to the St. Agatha sports fields, to be configured in four stacked rows of 3 courts, 2 courts, 2 courts, 3 courts and setback a minimum of 150 feet from Ridgeview Road.

The recommendations from the Northam Park Special Committee are being shared with City Council as part of a report of the committee’s work. Before Council deliberates on this issue, the City Manager intends to meet with several groups who have a vested interest in the Northam Park Master Plan to share the Committee’s recommendations and gather additional input. This will include leadership from the Upper Arlington Schools, Upper Arlington Library and Senior Advisory Council. Homeowners surrounding Thompson Park are being sent a letter from the City Manager that details the recommendations and anticipated next steps.

 

August 24 City Council Meeting Summary
After much discussion, City Council voted to accept the Northam Park Conceptual Plan dated August 7, 2015, with the direction to the City Manager that additional deliberation was required relative to an optimum location for the tennis courts. Below is the language contained within the motion:

Motion to Accept the Conceptual Plan, with the exception of the tennis courts, presented to Council dated August 7, 2015 and to request the City Manager to proceed with engineering and related work to implement the Plan, with the exception of the tennis courts, provided the following items set forth in this motion are addressed.  In doing so, the City Manager should continue to collaborate with the Schools and Library, to continue to engage the community in the design/features of specific park components such as the new pool facilities, playground, sports field configuration and tennis courts, continue to work with Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus (St. Agatha), continue to preserve as many trees as possible, continue to seek alternative funding sources, take steps to minimize the disruption of park activities during periods of reconstruction, prioritize traffic safety on the streets bordering the park and in parking facilities servicing the park, to minimize impacts on adjacent residential properties including to take steps to ensure landscape buffers and screening from adjacent residential properties, and to continue to keep residents informed about the renovations. With respect to tennis courts and the maximization of field sport space, the City Manager should engage the Field Sports Advisory Committee, with the addition of a representative of the Northam Park Tennis Advisory Committee, in a process to identify the advantages and disadvantages of a tennis location and number of courts adjacent to the area designated for the swimming pool at Northam, a location at Thompson Park and a location 100 ft. further south of the location proposed in the August 7 version of the Plan for a total setback of 150 ft. from the street as well as any other appropriate location. The City Manager’s recommendation as to those locations and the number of courts should be reported to Council, placed on the Council agenda and the subject of a Council public hearing.


August 17, 2015 City Council Public Hearing
August 17 Meeting Minutes
August 7 Version of Park Concept Plan  |  Public Meeting Announcement
August 17 Staff Report  |  Draft Sports Field Plan  |  Staff Presentation
Our thanks to everyone who attended the August 17 City Council Public Hearing, at which the latest concept plan was presented to Council. Please click on the links above to view the concept plan and other documents associated with the meeting.

Northam Park Concept Plan - Aug 7
Above is the August 7 concept plan for the Northam Park redevelopment.

 


About the Northam Park Master Plan Process

Previous Concept Plan (May/June version)  |  Northam Park Timeline  |  Today's Northam Park
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions  |  About the Upper Arlington Community Foundation

Several years in the making, planning for the redevelopment of Northam Park is nearing completion. With strengthened ties and cooperation between the City, Schools and Library, these three entities have participated in stakeholder meetings since 2012—alongside representatives of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, field sports groups and other park users—to explore how a collaborative effort could transform the park into a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing central park for all in the community to enjoy. It is the intention of all involved to honor the traditions and activities that make Northam Park the special park that it is.

Summary of Spring/Summer Outreach and Plan Evolution Process
In order for a project of this magnitude to be successful, it requires community input and support. Continuing the City’s previous outreach and public involvement efforts during past phases of the planning process, the following meetings were scheduled this summer.

  • Presentations – Throughout the months of May and June, City Manager Ted Staton and Parks & Recreation Director Todd Younkin met with various stakeholder groups to provide updates on the plans. This included representatives from the UA Swim Club, the Field Sports Advisory Group, Northam Park Tennis Advisory Committee, the Senior Advisory Council at the Senior Center, the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, Cultural Arts Commission and City Tree Commission.
  • City Manager Coffees – Ted Staton continued his informal discussions on the issues of the day at various community locations: Wednesday, June 3, Panera Bread at Five Points; Wednesday, June 10, Starbucks on Henderson Road; Wednesday, June 17, dining area at the Kingsdale Giant Eagle; Wednesday, June 24, La Chatelaine on Lane Avenue.
  • Board of Zoning and Planning Work Session, Monday, June 1 – Any park redevelopment of this nature requires a review by the Board of Zoning and Planning. At this June 1 meeting, Staff presented the proposed reconfiguration and programming elements, with input from the Board expected relative to items such as parking requirements, lighting and accessibility.
  • Community Meeting, Wednesday, June 10 – Our thanks to the more than 150 residents who attended our Community Meeting on the Northam Park project. We have added the presentation materials to the links at the bottom of the page, and summaries of the feedback we received that night.
  • Senior Discussion Series – City Manager Ted Staton met with numerous older adults at the Senior Center, per the following schedule: Wednesday, June 17; Monday, June 22; Thursday, June 25, Monday, June 29
  • Daytime Conversation Opportunities – At the suggestion of an attendee of one of his coffees, City Manager Ted Staton scheduled some additional conversations during daytime hours, designed to be convenient for parents with young children, per the following schedule: Wednesday, July 22 - Tremont Library; Tuesday, July 28 - Northam Park Playground.
  • Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Update – An update on the planning process and next steps was shared at the Board's regular meeting on July 15.
  • July – Additional updates were provided in July to Boards and Commissions as part of their regular meeting schedules and to area civic groups.
  • Following the summer 2015 community outreach effort, the feedback received was reviewed by MKSK and the stakeholder group to determine what adjustments could be made to help make the Northam Park Master Plan a community success.
  • A new concept for the park redevelopment—to include Tremont Pool, sports fields, tennis courts and other outdoor park space—was shared via the City’s website and with all interested parties beginning August 10.
  • This plan was presented to City Council at a public hearing at a Special City Council meeting on August 17 at the UA High School Auditorium.
  • Council begins its deliberations at the August 24 City Council Meeting. This meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. This meeting will be held at 3600 Tremont Road.
  • A timeline for unveiling plans for the proposed indoor recreation space, in conjunction with the Schools and the Upper Arlington Community Foundation is still pending at this time. In the meantime, the School District is proceeding with a new classroom addition on the north end of Tremont Elementary, and is planning for other changes within the school.

Northam Park "From Good to Great" Online Community Forum – May 25-July 3
Summary  |  Sports Fields Park Features  |  Gardens & Picnic Area
Pavilion/Gazebo  |  Pool Options Playground Features  |  Miscellaneous
With the help of MKSK, we launched an online community forum dedicated to the Northam Park planning process. Using a tool called mySidewalk (formerly MindMixer), residents could study the programming elements being considered and participate in a community discussion to help us make our plans for the park even better.Thank you to everyone who participated in this idea generating opportunity, we received lots of great feedback. A summary and the comments received from this online forum are now available above.


 

Project Background

Northam Park is considered by many as the community's most central outdoor recreational space. It is home to one of our outdoor pools, the Northam Park Tennis courts, sports fields, walking paths and a playground, as well as our Senior Center, the Tremont Elementary School, the community's main Library branch and St. Agatha's Church and School. Each year, the park plays host to three of the community's largest special events - the UA Civic Association's Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks, the UA Area Chamber of Commerce's Taste of UA, and the City's ever popular Labor Day Arts Festival. Plus, there's rarely a fair-weather weekend that goes by when the sports fields aren't in full use by various sports leagues.

For all this year-round activity, Northam Park evolved into its present format in a piece-meal manner. The placement of some existing facilities is not conducive to other uses of the park. Several park components are aging and close to exceeding their useful lives - such as Tremont Pool, which closed following the 2014 season as a result of structural issues with the deck - and the Senior Center, which is comprised of a series of modular buildings that had been built decades ago as temporary spaces for the elementary school. Additionally, within the park there are several drainage issues that can negatively impact the use of field space during wet weather.

As is the case for other elements of the City's infrastructure (streets, water lines, storm sewers, etc.), the City recognizes that some significant maintenance work and park upgrades are required on the City's part in order to assure its continued use and enjoyment by the public in the decades ahead. To that end, the City has already identified funds within the 10-year Capital Improvement Program for some significant projects, including the park infrastructure and reconfiguration, a new aquatics facility, relocation of the tennis courts and playground replacement.

Knowing how interrelated the various park facilities are with each other, City Administration invited the park's key stakeholders to join in a review of the park's existing condition and makeup, and to explore options for planning a significant park overhaul. In 2013, the City contracted with the firm MKSK to develop a strategic master plan for Northam Park that would transform and maximize the potential use of the space, taking into consideration the needs of the stakeholder partners and the community as a whole. The master plan was presented to City Council at the close of 2013. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to access the master plan document in its entirety.

The master plan sets forth a vision for Northam Park that addresses significant drainage and infrastructure issues and re-imagines a central community park that maximizes functionality. Since early 2015, City Staff and MKSK, along with Schools, Library and Foundation representatives have been hard at work turning the master plan concepts into more detailed plans that will provide City Council with the information it will need in order to set direction to Staff and to trigger the start of Phase II.

Phase I
The first phase of the park's redevelopment began and was substantially completed in 2014—the reconstruction of the public parking lot off Tremont Road that is also used to serve the Library and Tremont Elementary School. This project included the installation of a pedestrian gateway from Tremont Road into the park—work on this gateway is being completed in the spring of 2015. This first phase was made possible thanks to participation by the Upper Arlington Schools and Upper Arlington Public Library, as well as a $250,000 grant from the State of Ohio, and a $90,000 grant from AEP Ohio to help install LED lighting.

Phase II—Reconfiguration of the Park
A primary concept around which the master plan is built involves the centralization of the City- and School-owned sports fields. The plan calls for a multi-use path that circumnavigates the sports fields, with opportunity for other facilities and programming areas around the perimeter of the park. The result is flexible space that can support sports leagues and special events, and that addresses flooding issues by working more effectively with the natural sloping and drainage within the site. The original concept developed within the Master Plan was presented to multiple stakeholder groups beginning just over a year ago and as recently as the start of this year to various interested parties. From these discussions, we heard a number of concerns that have resulted in several significant changes to the plans. First and foremost, the desire for expanded sports field space came through loud and clear. Many also expressed a desire to retain key programming components within the park, such as the Tremont Pool and Northam Park Tennis Courts. To help accommodate these desires within the confines of the available space, many indicated that we should reduce the gardens at the south end of the park.

Tremont Pool
After approximately 60 years of service, it had been clear for some time that Tremont Pool’s days were numbered. For more years than expected, our Aquatics Staff was able to make repairs that kept the facility in service but as the pool closed each fall, many wondered if it would be able to reopen come the next Memorial Day Weekend. Unfortunately, an underground infrastructure issue was discovered after the 2014 season that proved too extensive to justify a repair attempt. Since that time, sections of the pool deck have collapsed as a result. Since the location of a new pool would be somewhat different to the current footprint, the old pool is scheduled for demolition this summer. In keeping with the findings and sentiment arising from a 2009 study of the Tremont Pool, the proposed replacement will be similar in size and nature to the old facility.

Upper Arlington Community Foundation
While the City has funds identified within the Capital Improvement Program to implement a significant portion of the Northam Park redevelopment in just a few years, it does not currently include funding for a number of park enhancement features and “value added” amenities that have been identified within the Master Plan. The Upper Arlington Community Foundation has been exploring the potential for undertaking a fundraising campaign to help take the Northam Park redevelopment project from good to great. Some initial findings have indicated that there may be support for marrying its efforts with Tremont Elementary School’s plans for adding a new gymnasium in order to provide some level of indoor recreational space for use by the community. The feasibility for including replacement space for the Senior Center within such a facility is also part of this consideration.

Implementation Timing
In the short term, it will be the recommendations and costs associated with addressing the core infrastructure upgrades and sports field reconfiguration that will come before Council, along with recommended timing for the relocation plans for the Northam Park Tennis Courts and reconstruction of the Tremont Pool. Pending City Council approval as plans are finalized and costs determined, the park reconfiguration is tentatively scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016, with full completion by the fall of 2017. Likewise, we would anticipate the new Tremont Pool beginning construction in the spring of 2016, with an opening on Memorial Day Weekend 2017. A timeline for the tennis courts is not yet known.

 

If you wish to provide feedback or have questions relative to the Northam Park Master Plan, please click on the Contact Parks & Recreation link below, and put "Northam Park Master Plan" as the lead-in to your comments.


Associated Documents


Date of Record: 2015-12-11