New park art

A six-acre, $9 million park has been proposed for downtown Lincoln, just south of the Haymarket.

The park’s planned location is southwest of the intersection of 7th and N streets. The proposal includes an off-leash dog run area, an interactive water feature and an event space that can host concerts and art events, according to J.J. Yost, planning and facilities manager for Lincoln Parks and Recreation.

Yost said the park will also feature more typical neighborhood park amenities, including a children’s play area, a half-court basketball court, a shaded seating area and hard surface walking paths.

The park will connect the N Street Cycle Track to the Jamaica North Trail at J Street, according to Yost.

The project will be primarily funded by private donations, Yost said, although some federal grants or local tax funds may be involved as well.

So far, around $4 million has been raised for the park, and he said the Lincoln Parks Foundation is still strategizing a formal fundraising campaign.

Once the funding is secured, the design process will begin, and public open houses will be scheduled for community feedback throughout the process. Yost said there is no official date scheduled for the completion of the park.

Shawn Ryba, executive director of South of Downtown Community Development Organization, said he is frustrated with the lack of green space available to residents in neighborhoods south of downtown but is apprehensive about the new park’s ability to improve the quality of life for his neighborhood’s residents.

“The frustration that we have is, first of all, having limited access to green spaces, but second of all, the spaces that we do have are very poorly maintained and have not quite reached a priority from the city,” he said. “These are existing neighborhoods. There’s already people living in these neighborhoods. And it would certainly be nice if we could figure out a way to invest in the existing resources we have and do a better job of maintaining the limited resources that we have.”

Ryba said he would like to work more with other local organizations throughout the design process.

“It would certainly be a fantastic thing if we could work with the Lincoln public schools, work with the Parks and Rec [and] work with the City of Lincoln to figure out how we could design their playgrounds and their spaces to benefit the overall community,” he said.

Ryba said he does not oppose the new park plan, but wishes more resources would go to existing parks.

“[Parks] do improve quality of life where you have access to green space; you can walk, you can bike, you can have all these different types of programming and spaces that families can go,” he said. “I think it enriches and improves quality of life for the general public. I just wish we could look at a more balanced approach.”