Visitors to Mary Ross Waterfront Park in downtown Brunswick may be able to shop, eat and play there if the newest plans for its renovation come to fruition.
Members of the Brunswick Urban Redevelopment Agency met at Old City Hall Thursday to review plans for the renovation of the park.
A presentation was given by urban planner and landscape architect Roger Steffens of Steffens and Associates Land Architects. He was accompanied by his daughter Ashley Steffens, an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design. The new park plan includes retail and dining space, a native garden and a water play area equipped with water fountains.
“This is such a vital area,” Steffens said. “We got so excited about redesigning it.”
The new plan will use existing structures such as the pavilion and farmers market. However Steffens said both facilities will need some updates.
“We felt the existing facilities should be kept,” Steffens said. “They were high on the list of things the community wanted to see. So we felt they were worth saving, but obviously the pavilion needs (work).”
Along with keeping the existing pavilion and farmers market, the park’s entrance will retain the model of a World War II-era Liberty Ship. The model harkens to the 1940s when a shipyard in Brunswick constructed 99 of the boats for the war effort.
The plan will also add new buildings for retail and dining. These small buildings will be approximately 400 square feet each.
Other new features will nod to the city’s ties to the shrimping industry. These will be a shrimp boat shaped fountain located at the entrance to the Gloucester Street extension parking and a shrimp-boat designed play structure near the main entrance to the park.
The new park will also feature large swings, which seat two people and light up at night.
The park is also designed with Brunswick’s hot summers in mind. The park plan includes more trees for shade as well as shade sails which will cover several parts of the park.
One of the things that makes Mary Ross Waterfront Park unique is the waterfront, redevelopment agency commissioners said. Urban Redevelopment Agency Commissioners said they’d like the waterfront to remain the key feature of the park.
Steffens designed many of the features of the park with the waterfront in mind. He said he noticed there is currently no seating along the waterfront, so he included benches along the boardwalk. The boardwalk will also include a welcome sign for tourists arriving by boat to a day dock, as well as a fish cleaning station for the many anglers who visit the waterfront.
The chair of the agency, LaRon D. Bennett Sr., said he is excited to transform the area from a passive park into an interactive park. Bennett also said the only limiting factor is space. If he had it his way, he would like to see more additions, such as a ferris wheel or merry-go-round.
The meeting concluded with Mayor Cornell Harvey praising the agency for its progress in the planning of the park and encouraging the board members to continue with their hard work going forward.