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It looks like Gyro Park Plaza will become focal point of major lakefront upgrades in Osoyoos
There’s no doubt Gyro Park will undergo a dramatic metamorphosis over the next couple of years, but the size, scope and impact will only be determined by how much money is directed towards upgrades by town council in the next two years.
During a public hearing that attracted close to 40 local residents last Thursday evening to a meeting room at the Sonora Community Centre, two senior staff from Outland Design: Landscape Architecture presented their vision to upgrade and beautify Osoyoos’ downtown park through its plans for a Gyro Park Plaza.
Fiona Barton, a senior landscape architect with Outland Design, and Byron Douglas, a senior landscape designer, showcased detailed design drawings about the proposed plaza that would include an extended paved promenade leading to the edge of Osoyoos Lake, a multi-tiered composite decking on the north side of the plaza and the planting of numerous new trees, grass and portable lights.
Initial cost estimates to complete the entire project would be more than $600,000.
The old U-shaped parking lot that has sat idle for the past two years would be dug up and removed permanently if this project proceeds.
Alain Cunningham, the town’s director of development and planning, said a three-day charette held almost two years ago involving dozens of local citizens and business owners, made it very clear that upgrading and beautifying Gyro Park is a top priority in this community.
Cunningham said staff has forwarded details to members of council about breaking down the Gyro Park Plaza project into two phases, with Phase 1 costing roughly $400,000 and Phase 2 another $200,000.
After months of meetings and discussions among committee members, discussion about a new Gyro Park Plaza lead to Outland Design being hired several months ago.
Mayor Stu Wells said literally hundreds of ideas about improving Osoyoos’ lakefront have been discussed through the years, but there has been concensus that citizens want Gyro Park upgraded and beautified as quickly as possible.
“We’re moving forward with the main ideas that came out of the charette,” he said. “It was agreed that developing a main plaza is very important.”
Wells told the audience council is about to enter into 2014 budget talks over the next few weeks and providing funding to at least begin construction on building a new Gyro Park Plaza is a top priority.
“We’re going to move on this,” he said. “We want to make sure decisions are based on what the public has to say.”
Barton said her company produced preliminary design work on three major projects to upgrade the lakefront in Osoyoos, with the Gyro Park Plaza proposal leading the way.
Design drawings and proposals have also been completed to upgrade the slope near the parking lot leading to the town’s marina and Osoyoos Sailing Club as well as the shear down slope located south of the main beach at Gyro Beach, she said.
Douglas said all of his architectural drawings and proposals were designed “form the pedestrian point of view” and the proposed plaza will be a place that is easily accessible, attractive and relaxing.
The plaza project would also extend to improving and upgrading the town’s concession stand as it would provide more seating, he said.
“It would link the beach to the plaza and the plaza to the concession area,” he said.
The entire length of the promenade and deck would introduce new trees and stylish lights to light up the area in the evening hours, he said.
None of the beautiful trees that currently exist in the Gyro Park area would be removed or cut down during this process, he said.
Numerous benches would also be brought in allowing people to sit down and relax while strolling the plaza, he said. None of the construction materials, colour patterns or design concepts he has proposed have been finalized and it will be up to members of town council to decide these key issues and how much money should be spent, he said.
Four options for the marina parking lot slope ranged from rock mulch only at a cost of roughly $56,000 to more than $140,000 to install a new retaining wall. The two other options included a combination of rock mulch and shrubs.
“There are good and bad with all four options, it’s just of matter of what the town is looking for and budget,” said Barton.
Any trees of shrubs used during any of these upgrades will be able to handle the heat and weather conditions that make Osoyoos the warmest place to live in Canada, she said.
The entire park would be accessible for wheelchairs and there is more than enough space to get emergency vehicles on site and able to turn around during an emergency, said Douglas.
Everyone in attendance was asked to fill out a detailed form presented by Outland Design which asked for specific recommendations on the Gyro Park Plaza proposal, marina parking lot slope and the shear down slope. Her staff will make many of its decisions moving forward on this project based on those recommendations and decisions made by town council over the next two months, said Barton.