Central Park progress: Primarily on point
During the last couple of weeks, some of the fences that have surrounded Grinnell’s Central Park this summer have come down intermittently, permitting a clearer look at the construction process.
For example, when we last snapped a picture of the gazebo, on or about July 10, the structure was sitting on a flatbed truck. Now the gazebo sits snugly on a foundation, complete with steps, at its new location at the south end of the park. In at least two important ways, the gazebo symbolizes the entire park renovation process: respect for the past combined with the necessity of improvement.
According to Kelly Johnson Rose, Grinnell’s Parks and Recreation Director, construction is slightly behind schedule. The lag is attributed in part to the drainage issue that bubbled up this summer involving the Veteran Memorial Building. “Bushong Construction was hoping the complete the majority of the project by December 1,” Rose notes, but now some work will have to be rescheduled to the spring of 2017.
Still, Bushong hopes to complete “most of the stage and shelter this year and some of the sidewalk pours,” the Parks and Recreation Director continued.
Walking counterclockwise from the above view of the gazebo to the approximate 3:00 position, the observer comes upon the memorial that sits opposite the home of Grinnell’s founder. While the stone with its plaque may seem somewhat the victim of neglect in the present context, a bit of wear and tear after a century (the marker was set in place in 1916) is not unexpected, and the marker’s very presence amidst the chaos of construction is significant. This memorial will remain in the same general area of the park, states Kelly Johnson Rose. Other commemorative items and memorials are currently in storage. Some may be returned to the park at locations to be determined.
The importance of the past will be further recognized in that the new version of Central Park will include a History Walk with panels, currently being designed, that will reflect the Grinnell of yesteryear.
Moving from 3:00 to 1:00 (or north on Park Street on the east side of the park to the corner of Fourth Avenue and Park Street), the casual observer notes the stage construction in progress. While future events may be hard to envision, there will be a time when performers and presenters will look upon a field of spectators instead of machines, torn earth, construction materials and debris. To make an omelet, goes the saying, a few eggs need to be broken, and to renovate a park some disruption is required.
Meanwhile, the signs seem to be taking a break.
Based upon the clock analogy employed in this park report, the Veteran Memorial Building sits at 11:00—an appropriate location considering the significance of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the annals of military history. November 11 is recognized as Veterans Day—formerly Armistice Day—and the approaching date calls attention to the Veteran Memorial Building, perhaps the single question mark as to what Grinnell’s new Central Park will become. Voters will have the opportunity to express their views in November of 2017.
Of course some residents of Grinnell manage to remain apparently unaffected by whatever confusion might be going on around them. They go about their business preparing for winter—or perhaps enjoying a snack. (It’s hard to tell just what a squirrel is up to.)
In any case, Grinnellians heading into winter can be encouraged by the promise that the spring and summer of 2017 will bring a revitalized Central Park and several new features to enjoy.