New ‘Pocket Park ‘for Montpelier, VT

MONTPELIER: In July 2003, construction began?on Montpelier’s newest public park, a 1,700-square foot ‘pocket park’ at the corner of Court and Elm Streets. Located approximately two blocks from the Vermont State House, the future park is owned by the Trust for Public Land. TPL’s Vermont office is located at 3 Shipman Place in the 18th Century Judge Keith House, and the new park will sit in front of the house at street level. As part of the project, TPL will place a conservation easement over the park.

“We started working on creating this park just over two years ago and are delighted to be announcing the groundbreaking today,” said TPL field office director David Houghton. “When completed this fall, the pocket park will provide a beautiful new space for relaxing in the heart of downtown Montpelier. We are grateful to the City of Montpelier, Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont Downtown Program, Capital Area Land Trust, and Montpelier Downtown Community Association for their help putting this park on the ground.”

Designed by landscape architect Jean Vissering with assistance from the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the space will include a wheelchair-accessible seating area, a butterfly garden, seating-level retaining walls, and native plant gardens. Terry Solomon of Alpine Landscape Company has been hired as the general contractor for the park and will oversee the park construction process.

The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, a statewide nonprofit youth, service, conservation, and education organization, will spend the next three weeks at the site, assisting with construction work. “This project provides a great opportunity for young people from the area to give back to the community and learn applicable landscaping skills in the process,” said Paul Schmidt, operations director for the Corps. “It is really a great melding of missions for all the partners involved.”

A generous grant of approximately $24,000 from the Vermont Downtown Program will help cover 25 percent of the project’s costs,?including the installation of park benches, plantings, and other site amenities. TPL, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, and the City of Montpelier will cover the remaining costs.

“Montpelier’s downtown revitalization efforts have, over the past few years, made a tremendous difference in our capital city,” said John Hall, commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, and vice-chair of the Vermont Downtown Board. “We are pleased to be a part of this project, which will make the City an even more attractive place to live, work and visit.”

The park will be owned and maintained by TPL, which will also donate a conservation easement over the park to the City of Montpelier and the Capital Area Land Trust.

“The City of Montpelier is excited to work cooperatively with TPL, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, and Vermont Downtown Program to create this new park,” said city parks director Geoff Beyer. “The project reflects many wonderful qualities of Vermont and Montpelier, and it is great to watch people and organizations working together to build a better community.”

TPL completed its first project in Vermont in 1993, when it helped add 325 acres in Manchester and Rupert to the Green Mountain National Forest. Since then, the organization has helped permanently conserve nearly 30,000 acres across the state, including adding roughly 2,700 acres to Camel’s Hump State Park and protecting 152 acres in Montpelier as part of the City’s North Branch Recreation Area, a network of trails, parks, and open lands. In 1999, TPL moved its Vermont office from Norwich to Montpelier and, a year later, purchased the Shipman Place property.

Currently, TPL is working to protect the 489-acre Mallory Brook property near the East Montpelier Elementary School. A mix of forests, scenic meadows, and wetlands, the property provides important habitat for many species of wildlife and buffers?the spring-fed drinking water supply for 130 households in East Montpelier.

TPL’s other ongoing project in the area is the new pocket park.”This is a rare opportunity to use our office site to advance our mission,”?explained?Houghton. “By creating parks and saving land, we are maintaining and improving the quality of life that defines Vermont.”

For more information on this project, contact:
Erin Rowland, Public Affairs Director, The Trust for Public Land, (617) 367-6200 x321

Posted 7/2003