HARRISONBURG — Almost four months after expressing urgency for City Council to act on forming a public-private partnership for a downtown park, the Plan Our Park Committee is still crafting a finished product.
Members of the private group aren’t sharing publicly what they are discussing, and Eddie Bumbaugh, the executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance who works with the park team, said it was “premature” to report any progress.
He also wouldn’t say if a new presentation to City Council was in the works.
In December, Plan Our Park told council that an attraction near Turner Pavilion on South Liberty Street would cost about $10 million through a public-private partnership it wanted the panel to “immediately” enter into.
However, council has never taken action, and city staff isn’t preparing a report for the body to consider, either, spokeswoman Mary-Hope Vass said.
On Wednesday, Councilman Charles Chenault reiterated what he said during a work session in February: that the “ball’s in their court,” referring to Plan Our Park.
Councilman Richard Baugh said the old proposal is gone now. Park supporters likely understood that they were asking the city for a lot of money at a time when other capital projects are a priority, he said, so they voluntarily pulled the original plan to modify it.
Committee members Bibb Frazier and Jay Monger did not return calls for comment.
“Things are still active, very active,” said Matt Robertson, spokeswoman for the committee’s design team. “Our economic team is working. Our design team is working. Our fundraising team is working. It’s all still very much an active job.”
The first phase of the park, according to the December presentation, is estimated to cost about $2 million to $3 million and involves the purchase of two houses on South Liberty Street; the construction of a new farmers market pavilion, kitchen and bathrooms just south and parallel to the existing market; a market square with 72 parking spots between the two structures; and a promenade connecting to Court Square.
If fully built out to the December plan, the park would occupy the municipal parking lot north of Turner Pavilion and the Lindsey Funeral Home property on South Main Street. Several members of the park committee formed Greener Harrisonburg LLC and hold an option to purchase the Lindsey land, but not the business, which would remain in operation.
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