September 7, 2013


Dryden looks to rehab village park

ParkBob Ellis/staff photographer
The playground and basketball courts as seen from the gazebo in Montgomery Park on Elm Street in Dryden.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Village officials are moving ahead with plans to rehabilitate Montgomery Park, a roughly 1.6-acre plot of land that lies between Main and Elm streets.
Willed to the village by the Montgomery family sometime during the 1920s, Mayor James Zimmer said the park has gained a bad reputation in recent years, with drug activity being reported on multiple occasions.
Zimmer wants to develop a comprehensive plan that will turn the park around.
“My intent is to make it one of the focal spots for the village,” Zimmer said. “If you want to change the type of person attending the park, you need to draw good people in.”
Although Zimmer’s plan is still in its infancy, it draws on ideas originally put forth in the classroom of Melissa Bianconi, the town of Dryden’s recreation director who also teaches on occasion at Ithaca College.
As part of their Design and Operations of Recreational Areas and Facilities class, required for students in the Recreational Management and Outdoor Leadership program, students visited the park and devised plans for its mock rehabilitation.
“As the village moves forward to a comprehensive plan, they have drawn a lot of ideas from these student designs,” Bianconi said. “It was just a serendipitous situation. I thought to myself, ‘Why not have the students redesign an actual park that is in need of redesign?’”
Students were required to incorporate a multi-purpose athletic space and a playground in their designs, though apart from that they were given free rein.
“Some students put in dog parks,” said Bianconi. “Others put in a path along the park’s perimeter where parents could walk or teach their kids how to ride a bike.”
Some plans included skate parks and even included elaborate foliage preferences and landscape decisions intended to mesh with the required playground.
Of the many ideas that Zimmer said he was particularly interested in are an area designed specifically for walking dogs and a sunken, concrete amphitheater. The gazebo that currently inhabits the park also figures to be refurbished as it is in need of a new roof.
Bianconi said her students were thrilled to learn their ideas were being put to use.
“I had one student come up to me and say, ‘I want to completely change my major now because this is what I want to do,’” she said. “It’s one of the most telling things I’ve ever experienced as a professor.”
Zimmer said the village is writing a grant proposal in an attempt to secure money.
“We’re making progress,” he said. “We should have them (grant proposals) by the end of the year.”
Another plan, originally unveiled by the town planning and recreation departments in November of 2011 for an extensive park located near the town of Dryden’s Department of Public Works, is still ongoing, though Bianconi was reluctant to offer a timetable on when construction might start on the 55-acre undertaking.
“The land was purchased with the intent of turning it into a park,” said Bianconi. “A lot of time goes into planning it. We need to get a lot of different community groups on board.”
The park’s ambitious plan would include a boardwalk trail through wetlands, major athletic space, a permanent skateboard park and, potentially, an outdoor amphitheater.
“That would be my dream,” said Bianconi. “Though that (amphitheater) would probably come at a later time.”


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