Warren Riverview Park about to get underway

Warren Riverview Park takes in a sweeping view of the Arkansas River, here shown looking south. Bids on construction of the $3 million park, which will have an emphasis on outdoor activities, including access to the river, are set to be opened next week.

Last year, it was Madison Avenue Central Park. This year, the city’s new park focus will be set on Warren Riverview Park.

The bids for the park’s construction will be opened at 10 a.m. March 21 at City Hall. That’s a week later than its original time.

Even after the bids are opened, there is more work to be done before dirt will be moving.

“This is not just a simple opening and award,” said Public Works Director Robert Mendoza. “There is an extensive review of the bid documents that will be completed to determine the best vendor to meet our needs.”

The actual work schedule will be made public later, he said.

The park’s emphasis will be on the outdoors and while family-oriented, it is aimed at young teens as opposed to toddlers.

The Warren name is due to the family’s involvement in the park, including a $50,000 donation. The family has long been active in outdoor activities, especially those dealing with Boy Scouting and its endeavors such as camping and canoeing.

It will have one building, The Lodge, which will be available as a rental facility.

The estimated cost of the park is $3 million, although the final sum depends on how the bids come in. After the donation, the remaining money is coming from the city’s general fund.

The park, which will be between Market Street and Washington Avenue on the east bank of the Arkansas River, once was home to the city’s public works center. That facility has moved to 55th Street. Before that, it was the site of a wastewater treatment facility.

To get more on the thought process behind the park and its features, The Informer asked the design team to discuss the park’s concept. The team of David Stauth, Nick Staib (now with PEC) and Dan Wilson at WDM Architects PA, the same firm involved in Central Park, were the forces behind the design.

PEC of Wichita dealt with the civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering design.

It seems the design works to cooperate with the space presented, rather than putting in a pre-determined design. Would that be accurate and why?

That is very much an accurate statement. The park design includes an open lawn to the east then slopes west toward terraced lawns as the grade falls down to the river.

The Lodge building is given prominent placement for visual and physical access to parking and streets, with sweeping overlook views of the park and river below.

Children’s play areas are at the top of the park away from the water’s edge and the boat launch is at the south end of the park where visitors can carry their canoes to the river without passing through the lawns or play areas.

What sort of uses do you foresee for this park?

There’s a little something for everyone in this park and much time was spent exploring how to provide the best experience for Derby and its residents.

Many activities are possible, including weddings, birthdays, river adventures, outdoor concerts, bird watching, scout meetings, bonfires, lawn games, photography, or simple peaceful, quiet time watching the river roll by.

Who came up with the design concepts for the park? Was it a committee or one or two people? And how did they select the features to be highlighted?

The concept was created by WDM Architects and our partner, SWT Design. During the course of several months, we collaborated with city leaders and received feedback from the community via social media and continued to revise the design to reflect the input of many project stakeholders.

When drawing up the overall site plan, did you refer to other park designs, or work from a completely “clean sheet” of paper for its look and features?

This project is a completely unique design. It is specifically arranged to fit this site and work with the existing topography, and the design incorporates features requested by the community.

Can you explain The Lodge and what its purpose is?

The Lodge will be a rentable park shelter in the design style of National Park lodges like those found in Yellowstone or Yosemite.

It can host small events, gatherings, scout groups or other meetings and conferences. The Lodge is rustic with large heavy timber beams, a slate-style roof, stacked stone columns, a grand fireplace and lots of glass to capture expansive views.

The building will offer audiovisual capabilities and a 1,400-square-foot hall. It will have restrooms accessible from the exterior for all guests.

Outside of The Lodge, what are some of the prominent features of Riverview Park?

Riverview Park has so much to offer to the public above and beyond the Lodge. The adventure playground is a ropes course designed for older children.

It is designed so you can make a complete circuit around the course without touching the ground.

There also is a 15-foot-tall net-climbing tower in the center. Children can explore a dry-stream bed or hunt for small creatures living in the bio-swale.

Adults looking for adventure can use the canoe and kayak launch to safely access the river.

Like any good park, there is a large open lawn but also a terraced lawn bisected by a grand staircase leading down to a river promenade for outdoor events or a casual evening stroll.

Gathering spaces include a trellis, open air shades structure constructed from heavy timbers, and even a totem pole. As the sun sets, groups can enjoy the stone Council Circle and fire ring.

There are numerous new trees incorporated into the park. How many are there and what types of trees are they? Also, why were they selected?

The new park will incorporate 34 different varieties of trees from commonly found pines and oak species, to the more unusual like the bald cypress or tulip tree.

Unlike most parks where there are large, similar looking trees shading a lawn, we selected a great variety of trees for their different heights, colors, flowers, shade, and other seasonal characteristics.

We wanted park visitors to see something different happening in the park each season of the year.

It will explode with different colors from spring to fall.

Similar to a botanical garden, the tree selection was based on the desire to provide a broad range of trees that can be found in Kansas. This allows for an educational component in comparing different tree species within the park.

The river’s water level rises and drops. How did you take that into consideration in the design?

The rise and fall of the river provided inspiration for the park’s design.

The Lodge is on a raised plot on the site above the flood plain, with a patio deck that would overhang the river in a flood event.

Large concrete footings around the Lodge are designed to protect and support the building in a flood.

The park edge along the river is designed to maintain its shape and construction against flood waters and the terraced site allows for the park to remain in use during times of high water.

The existing site had a drop of approximately 16 feet straight down to the river.

Through the use of terracing, we have opened up both access and views to the river below.

These series of terraces step back into the site and create a natural amphitheater for enjoying the natural scenery on the river.

The canoe drop-in is designed to operate at the different river levels as well. When the river is completely down, we will have beach access for events such as volleyball that could occur on the gravel bar.

Is there another park in the area that is similar to this?

Warren Riverview Park is completely unique to Derby.

Will there be additional features added in the future?

The park is situated in such a way that it can easily connect to pedestrian or hike and bike paths as they develop along the Arkansas River.

Are you pleased with the way the park turned out? Anything you would have done differently?

By working through this interactive design process between the designers and the community, this will be a highly successful park because it is based on the needs of the community, and not the wants of a few.

It will be exciting to see this park come to life once construction begins.

We look forward to the time when children can explore and play in the park and all can enjoy it.