Turntable Park, Montpelier, Vermont USA, 2011

PROJECT AND DATES: Turntable Park, 2011
LOCATION: Montpelier, Vermont, USA
CREDITS: Landscape Architect: Robert White, (ORW), Planner: Carolyn Radisch, (ORW),
Project Manager and Designer: Aaron Kadoch
Photography: Aaron Kadoch

This project is the site of a historic rail road car turntable, located near the historic stone cutting shops for granite and slate and marble from central Vermont. The project design restored and cleaned the turntable machinery, remediated the soils below, cleaned up the site from overgrown weeds and brush, stabilized the riverbank with new vegetation, and cleaned out invasive species. We created improved pedestrian access and ADA accessibility. We created an interactive path system to walk around the turntable and through it with modernized stainless steel railings and decking. We added minimal LED lighting for nighttime enjoyment and safety. The landscape design is geometrically located to work with the shape of the turntable structure and was designed on the premise of creating a local perma-culture of local natural species that support animal and insect wildlife. The design reused existing granite blocks that had been dumped on the site. They were used as structural components for custom bench designs where stainless steel anchors are set in the stone to support a floating wooden platform. Others were arrayed in specific locations around the site in a radial pattern around the turntable. Overall the design is a blending of contemporary and natural components to highlight the historic structures and allow for a contemporary experience within the pocket park.

The City of Montpelier began an aggressive strategy to improve the economic vitality of its downtown and its riverfront areas in 1993. A major component was the redevelopment of the Winooski East rail yard, a particularly derelict and under-utilized area of Montpelier’s downtown riverfront, into an active place to shop, eat, enjoy the riverfront, and appreciate the city’s heritage. Between 1997-1999, the City constructed basic infrastructure along Stone Cutters Way to support the commercial redevelopment of the land and buildings with federal, state, and local funds. A Phase I environmental assessment was done at that time. During the design phase and through later stages, the public was clear about its expectation that public access to the river (visual or actual) must be provided. The land is owned by the State of Vermont, through the Agency of Transportation, Rail Division. The City executed a lease agreement encompassing the state-owned portions of the Stone Cutters Way project area (road, bike path, sidewalks). The remaining areas were made available for private sector redevelopment.

Throughout the project, the City maintained its intent to create a public park, an area along Stone Cutters Way specifically reserved and designed for public use and enjoyment with the turntable as a centerpiece.

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