Public inspects two plans for Capaha Park

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
One of two plans to rework Capaha Park proposed by SWT Design during a public forum to discuss the possible changes to the park Tuesday, August 21, at the Osage Center. (ADAM VOGLER)
One of two plans to rework Capaha Park proposed by SWT Design during a public forum to discuss the possible changes to the park Tuesday, August 21, at the Osage Center. (ADAM VOGLER)

Summer in Capaha Park is a busy time. Draws to one of the city's oldest parks include a chance to feed the always hungry waterfowl or get in on a round of disc golf, hear a big band concert or watch a baseball game.

But two concepts for park improvements unveiled by a St. Louis firm plus recommendations from the public could give Cape Girardeau's central outdoor meeting spot a "wow factor," designers say.

SWT Design hosted two Capaha Park master plan improvement meetings Tuesday at the Osage Centre attended by city staff, residents and members of local business, tourism and educational entities to gather input on the designs. About 40 people attended.

Parks and Recreation director Julia Thompson said neither plan was final and that ideas in one plan could easily be integrated into the other.

"The really good thing about this is that you aren't stuck with either A or B," she said.

Firm representatives Carrie Coyne and Jay Wohlschlaeger presented the concepts, which were based on discussions with the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The firm looked at the park's infrastructure and current amenities while forming the plans, both which call for entrance enhancements; upgrades to the baseball field, pond and band shell; a "destination playground" to fill the space of the former pool; tying the park features together with nearly four miles of trails; and doubling the amount of parking now available.

Additions to the baseball field would include a "home run deck" in right field for parties, events or reserved seating, an expanded area for tailgating and a plaza behind home plate, while the pond would gain a boardwalk path out to a large center island with a gazebo. A central pavilion would be placed between a pond overlook and the baseball field plaza. The park's playground would use an "outside the box" theme, said Coyne, by containing earthen berms, rock formations and a water play area in addition to playground equipment. An enhanced amphitheater at the band shell would have natural-looking terraced seating. The park's northwest corner, known as Cherry Hill, would keep a similar design but have improved passages for pedestrian traffic and more parking.

The main difference between the two plans is in the access points for traffic by eliminating or moving entrance points on Broadway.

The concepts, according to city staff and the firm representatives, are not "construction-ready" plans, but instead are part of the master planning process that will help decide future uses of the park and improvement designs.

Residents at the first of the two meetings said they were happy with many of the ideas presented but worried about several issues, including changes in traffic flow, removal of older trees, parking by university students and the trail interference with disc golf play.

Kathy Moore, left, points out a feature in one of two proposed plans to rework Capaha Park to her daughter, Jennifer Gray, right, and granddaughter Juliette Gray, 11, during a public forum Tuesday at the Osage Centre. (ADAM VOGLER)

City manager Scott Meyer said the first plan's change to flow at the park's north end by removing an access point on Perry Avenue would increase traffic too much on Rose Street, which runs east-west north of the park.

Chuck Martin, director of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the entrance to the park on Broadway near West End Boulevard would be important to retain and questioned how a few of the firm's ideas would "marry," such as offering paddleboat rides on the pond from a center pavilion and fishing.

Other suggestions from attendees included adding nighttime lighting, elevating a plaza behind the baseball field's home plate and placing more fountains in the pond.

Thompson said the long-term master plan for the park will be fine-tuned into a recommendation to present to the city council this fall and that any projects would be planned and completed over a number of years.

No cost figures have yet been attached to the plans.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Capaha Park, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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