Proposed overhaul of Huntington Park draws praise

Robert Cairns | The Daily StarA pedestrian entrance to Oneonta's Huntington Park is shown Thursday, Sept. 10.

Oneonta got its first look at proposals for the Huntington Park redesign Thursday, Sept. 10, in a Zoom presentation.

Representatives from Stimson Landscape Architecture showed about 40 viewers preliminary designs for the park, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. 

"It is a very interesting design," Huntington Memorial Library Director Tina Winstead said. "I believe Henry Huntington would be proud."

Winstead said the project is being funded from grants from the state Parks and Recreation Department and the state aid fund for library construction. 

Stimson Principal Glen Valentine and three of his associates presented their study of the park and ideas for the redesign for about an hour followed by taking questions and fielding ideas from viewers for 15 minutes. 

Valentine said the plans draw from old blueprints of the park and property, which was owned by Huntington's parents. After he left Oneonta and made a fortune in the railroad business, Huntington donated the land to the city and worked with architect James Greenleaf to design the park.

The plans also draw on the shape and context of Oneonta, as the city of the hills, above a river plain, with vistas and wild green spaces, Valentine said.

The proposal envisions dividing the park into "character zones," that include the collections area, a wild hillside, a community green, a library gardens and a river's edge. The park would have more distinct entrances on Chestnut and Wall streets and more of a connection with downtown, according to the plan. A labyrinth, an overlook, a performance area, a restored sledding hill, a children's play area and a giant slide with rock scramble steps are elements of the design. 

The project will also add about 30 lamps to the park, Valentine said. The 12-ft high light poles will match the style of the light poles on Main Street, he said. 

"I am so impressed by the thoughtfulness of the design," Otsego County Rep. Danny Lapin, who represents part of Oneonta, wrote in the chatroom during the presentation.

The Stimson team included Sean Kline, an associate of the company who is from Delhi. He said he enjoyed using his memories of growing up in the area to help design the project, which includes heavy use of local bluestone.

"It makes it feel local," he said. "It makes it feel like it is rooted to the place." 

"It's great to have someone so familiar with the area be part of the design team," Valentine said. 

The presentation was recorded and will be posted online, Winstead said.

In addition, a survey about the project includes pictures and descriptions from the presentation. That survey can taken at www.surveymonkey.com/r/huntingtonparksurvey and is open until Sept. 24. 

Once the survey is finished, Stimson will refine its proposal, and make a second presentation later this year, according to project co-manager Laura Gomez.  

 

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