The City Council voted tonight to award a contract for strategic plan development to international landscaping firm Design Workshop.

The firm, originally from North Carolina and headquartered in Colorado, has a robust portfolio of projects, including the landscaping of historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Taza Park, in Calgary, Canada; the historic Wisner Tract Greens in New Orleans; Chalmette National Historical Park, also in New Orleans; the Houston Arboretum; and Riverfront Park in downtown Denver, Colorado.

Drawings from the Strategic Plan for Taza Park, in Calgary, Canada. The idea of healing through economy, and creating ecological spaces that can be enjoyed by a community, are major intellectual thrusts of Design Workshop.

With regards to park projects, the firms website states “our parks and open space projects enhance the everyday lives of people. We work to protect and restore ecosystems and bring spatial equity to the underserved because we know how crucial well-designed and well-maintained open space is.” Since it was founded in 1969, it has won dozens of awards.

CEO of Design Workshop Kurt Colbertson has articulated before that “that all parks need some form of revenue generation in order to fund maintenance and upkeep,” indicating that

Van Buskirk Park, located in Southwest Stockton near the Conway Homes housing project, traditionally served the community as a golf course – which was largely inaccessible to residents in the neighborhood. The park was gifted to the City by Charles R. Van Buskirk in the 1950s to be used as a permanent recreational facility. The park occupies 192 acres of land along the San Joaquin River.

A map of Van Buskirk Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. Courtesy of MapQuest.

An ongoing item on the City Council’s agenda for the past three years, Design Workshop is the only firm that submitted a bid for the project, but developed a serious proposal for civic engagement with community members to create a people-centric project. “Hiking and biking trails, a soccer complex, and a skatepark” are all concepts that have been brought up by concerned citizens before.

The consultant will produce a strategic plan with measures for ensuring environmental safety and health.

Councilwoman Christina Fugazi emphasized the need for community safety, and was happy that the City will have “something the community could truly embrace and use.”

An image of the Van Buskirk Park Golf Course. The golf course has been rarely used by residents of the communities near the park, and is a financial drain on the City government.

The bid stated that the project should be “revenue neutral,” which after questioning from Councilman Jesus Andrade, Interim Director of Community Services Suzy Daveluy explained would be pursued with community partnerships. The heirs of the Van Buskirk family have indicated that some educational uses would be acceptable and compatible with their ancestor’s original gift.

Councilman Paul Canepa questioned what would happen with a quarter of a million dollar plan if the City was not awarded a Prop 68 grant from the State to fund the implementation of the plan. Interim Director Daveluy recognized the concerns, and stressed the need to seek more grant funding. Prop 68, passed in 2018, creates funding for municipal projects dealing with drought, water, parks, climate, coastal protection, and outdoor access for all programs.

The awarded fee to Design Workshop amounts to $258,857. Later in the Council Meeting, the Council unanimously approved a submittal of grant applications for Van Buskirk Park and Columbus Park renovations.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *