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Rosemary residents share park vision

The Rosemary District Association is lobbying the city to purchase land to convert into a park for the rapidly growing neighborhood.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. June 20, 2019
David Lough said Rosemary District residents want a centrally located park that would serve as many people
David Lough said Rosemary District residents want a centrally located park that would serve as many people
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Rosemary District residents advocating for the construction of a park within the neighborhood are doing so with a sense of urgency. They worry that if they wait any longer, they could run out of land.

“Our vision is that of a central plaza, a central park,” said David Lough, co-chairman of the Rosemary District Association’s open space committee. “A green oasis in the midst of the developing neighborhood, to carve out something there forever — before it’s gone.”

Two years ago, leaders of a neighborhood visioning process identified the establishment of parkland within the 125-acre district as a top priority for residents. Since 2014, the city has approved more than 1,500 new residential units in the neighborhood. The population of the Rosemary District has passed 3,000 and could top 4,000 within a few years, Lough said.

During the past two years, Rosemary stakeholders have worked on refining their thoughts on how to address their park needs. In May, the neighborhood association sent a letter to the city outlining its latest proposal: the construction of a park near Central Avenue and Boulevard of the Arts, which is close to the middle of the district.

Lough said the proposal was inspired in part by the 2000 downtown master plan, which identified the intersection as the potential site of a central square for community activities. City staff is conducting an appraisal of one site, which is composed of two parcels at 531 Central Ave. and 1386 Boulevard of the Arts.

Another more contemporary planning initiative also contributed to the neighborhood’s vision. Initially, conversations focused on establishing smaller parks throughout the neighborhood. The city recently completed a parks master plan, however, which included a staff proposal to spend more than $50 million toward upgrading park infrastructure. Rosemary District Association President Richard Mones said that led the group to think bigger.

“With the city embarking on the new parks master plan, it was a great new opportunity for a proper park in the Rosemary District, not just a few pocket parks,” Mones said at a May City Commission meeting.

The master plan recommends establishing parks within a 10-minute walk of all residents and a five-minute walk for those living in high density areas. The Rosemary District isn’t the only part of the city that falls short of that benchmark, but the commission has directed staff to prioritize the needs of north-of-downtown district.

Questions about funding still remain. Lough has suggested the city could start by using $1.3 million in park development impact fees that he says projects in the neighborhood have generated. The city does not have neighborhood-specific information available, but there is currently $2.5 million in unallocated park impact fee funds.

Lough thinks the prioritization the neighborhood has received from the city is justified. A property owner was not responsive to inquiries about two other potential park sites the association identified, which feeds the urgency he and others feel. Rosemary District’s growth doesn’t just mean there are more residents who want a park near their homes. It also means available space is dwindling.

“It could be gone tomorrow,” Lough said. “That’s the reason to try to do something now.”


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