First look at Cannery Park designs

·3 min read

Jan. 26—EAU CLAIRE — A playground partially built on a hillside, a skating area that can be used in winter and warm weather, and riverfront boardwalks are among features envisioned for a city park in Eau Claire's Cannery District.

At its 7 p.m. meeting tonight, Eau Claire's Waterways & Parks Commission will review a conceptual plan for Cannery Park that was drafted from months of public input.

"We wanted it to be unique. It's going to be a focal point of the city," said Steve Plaza, the city's parks, forestry, cemetery, building & grounds manager.

The park will be located along the west bank of the Chippewa River, north of West Madison Street in an area the city has been working to turn into a mixed-use district with new housing and businesses.

It is intended draw people from around the Eau Claire area, but also serve as a replacement for nearby Kessler Park, which the city intends to sell for redevelopment.

That led to its design including elements found in small neighborhood parks, such as a playground, sport court, shelter and restrooms. It will also include more unique amenities to draw a wider audience, including an all-season skate area, space for food truck rallies, and trails people can use to get to the riverbank.

A hill on the western edge of the parkland also influenced how the playground is intended to be built.

"We would incorporate the hill in some of the design," Plaza said.

The park concept drafted by consulting group Confluence and Advanced Engineering Concepts shows a photo of a playground that uses the slope of a hillside as the basis for steps for kids to climb up and slides for them to go down.

In the center of the park would be a large flexible lawn area near a shelter with restrooms. This lawn could be used for multiple sports, such as volleyball, soccer, playing catch or various lawn games, Plaza said.

Just north of that would be an area with more specific sports in mind. Two hoops for half-court basketball are shown on the concept's map next to an irregular-shaped skate track.

While not a full-blown skate park like what's currently being planned elsewhere in Eau Claire at Boyd Park, Plaza said the Cannery Park's skating area would still have some features designed for people on skateboards to use.

And inside the skate track is a lawn area that could be flooded in wintertime to create an ice sheet for ice skating, he said.

A paved recreation trail already winds through the future park alongside the top of the riverbank. The park's concept map shows the addition of boardwalks closer to the river for nature walks or to go fishing.

Public input meetings and surveys conducted during fall in Eau Claire were used by Confluence to come up with the preferred concept design for the park.

Tonight's meeting is the first stop for Cannery Park's preferred concept, which will then go to the city Plan Commission on Feb. 14.

There will also be future meetings needed to rezone land for the park, determine if all the features will fit in its $3.5 million budget and then hire a firm to build Cannery Park.