Reclaiming the reclaimed
It may not be uncommon for a former industrial site such as a rock quarry to be repurposed for community green space. But to be repurposed and revitalized a second time is something special. The City of Verona recognized their opportunity to create a true community centerpiece with the second revitalization of Fireman’s Park on the shores of Quarry Lake.
Accessible, visionary recreation
The former amenities at Fireman’s Park served their purpose, no doubt. It had been a place of public gathering for soccer, picnics and refreshing summer swims for decades. Yet, the buildings and restrooms were in a state of steady deterioration. An overgrown chain-link fence surrounded the beach in a somewhat unwelcoming fashion, and trail connections to and from park amenities were in poor repair, largely inaccessible to anyone with mobility restrictions—as was much of the playground equipment.
The City partnered with MSA to create a Master Plan for Fireman’s Park and to present solutions to all the aforementioned issues — and then some — with the goal of creating a flagship community park to serve as a model for safe, inclusive, sustainable design. Now, more than ever, individuals and families are looking to a community’s park, recreation and outdoor spaces when making decisions about where to visit, vacation or relocate. Those communities who are successful have elected to make these assets as visible, accessible and interactive as possible.
Fireman’s Park retains its connection to the old community swimming hole and waterslide of Quarry Lake, but with new site grading, welcoming terraces, a sunbathing deck and umbrellas poised along the beach to provide shade to visitors and their picnics on hot summer days. Concrete steps lead up a stamped architectural concrete retaining wall to a circular, elevated splash pad and zero-depth aquatic play area, both of which can be reached by an arching ADA-accessible ramp.
The splash pad design itself is cheery, with swirls of sky blue and spring green concrete underfoot, complemented by matching blue and green leaf-shaped shade canopies above. Designed to be circular in nature and to encourage open vantage points and views of other play areas within the park, the splash pad is accented with nature-based water features depicting cat tails, flowers, fish, plant life and butterflies in an array of vivid prime colors. At the center is a gigantic, orange and white water pinwheel that dumps a cascade of water onto both eagerly awaiting and unsuspecting kids and adults beneath.
Adjoining to the splash pad is another circular area where visitors will find a “dancing water” journey area for younger children, or those looking for a quieter play experience. Here, children are encouraged to be curious and interact with the water features from beneath two giant blue shade canopies. Benches invite parents to watch, relax or play along.
Thanks to grant opportunities and tremendous community support, Fireman’s Park officially opened for public use in 2019 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on July 31. As the only outdoor aquatic recreation facility in the City of Verona, the beach and splash pad provide options for water lovers of all ages and abilities to cool down on hot summer days. This reclaimed, revitalized City park is sure to provide residents and guests with recreational entertainment for generations to come.