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First look at proposed Booth Park improvements

By Grace Lovins


During the Wednesday, June 26, Birmingham Planning Board meeting, board members were given a first look into proposed improvements for the Booth Park entry plaza and trail, offering positive feedback about the current direction of the design work.


Trail improvements and the entry plaza of Booth Park were included in the priority list of the city’s parks and recreation bond approved by voters back in 2020, according to parks and recreation manager Carrie Laird. Since 2023, a concept plan consisting of three sections was developed and accepted by the city commission in September of last year for trail improvements.


The overarching ideas which came out of the concept plan were accessibility, wayfinding and connectivity, Laird said. Earlier this year, the city commission selected design firm Grissim Metz Andriese Associates to design construction drawings for the entry plaza and trail improvements project based on the concept plan.


Sue Grissim, the principal architect and project manager, ran the board through their current progress, highlighting the improvements to the trail identifiers, accessibility enhancements and the ideas around creating a restroom for the park.


Around the playground that currently sits in the park, Grissim said they wanted to adjust the grading to ensure the playground was accessible when approaching the structure since the current grading is rather steep. Among other details, she explained two concept plans, one showing the elimination of four parking spaces to increase a concrete bump-out to minimize the impact into the park. The other design did not include the bump-out.


Grissim also walked the board through different trail improvements the firm was looking at with the parks and recreation board. They are looking to include seat walls around the entry plaza with a concrete foundation and natural elements on top. She said they’re also studying a crushed stone path for the trail and permeable paving and colored concrete for the plaza in order to differentiate portions of the park.


She also noted that they are in discussions with a donor that wants to create a special seating within a quiet pocket of the park to listen to the river. The design showed the seating is modeled in the shape of a butterfly.


While the firm and parks and recreation team were gathering public input about the improvements, one of the top suggestions was the inclusion of a restroom. Grissim explained that the team has been looking into both prefabricated facilities and custom facilities but hasn’t settled on a design just yet.


Planning board members offered positive feedback about the firm’s current progress with the design of the trails and plaza, saying they appreciated how they incorporated the public feedback into the designs. Most board members talked about the restroom facilities considering it is foremost in the public’s minds.


“Don’t put in a prefabricated restroom, please. It’s a beautiful park. It is such an improvement over what was there 25 years ago that let’s not cheapen it,” said board member Bryan Williams.

Chair Scott Clein and board members Bert Koseck and Janelle Whipple-Boyce all agreed about the restrooms. Overall, the board stated they think it is a wonderful project and are supportive of the progress so far.

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