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Pocket park to receive redesign

ALPENA — The Alpena Downtown Development Authority voted 6-0 to approve a plan to change the layout of the pocket park on Chisholm Street where the fish mural is located and devote $7,500 toward the cost to do the work.

Local businesses, the city, the DDA and private donors will pay for the project, which will be have an underwater theme with boats and vegetation that will reflect the bottom of the lake in Thunder Bay.

Doug Pratt of PrattScape LLC, said the mural is a great asset to the community, but he believed updating the park to better fit the aesthetics the mural provides was needed. He reached out to the city, the DDA and other interested parties to bounce ideas around and most involved supported the plan, with some pledging to help fund it.

Pratt said there will be six-foot boats scattered creatively around the park that will appear to have sunk. He said besides being decorative, they also will serve a purpose.

“They will be flat topped, so they are actually benches,” Pratt said. “There will also be large rocks that people can sit on and get their picture taken in front of the mural.”

Councilwoman Cindy Johnson, who has worked with Pratt and the others involved since February, said everything in the park will be three feet tall or shorter, so there will be nothing that obstructs the view of the mural. She said Thunder Bay Art Council is on board with the plan, as well as Owl Cafe, which has property adjacent to the park.

“We got input from almost everybody and almost everyone was pleased with Doug’s proposal,” Johnson said.

Certain aspects that will change will be minor, Pratt said. The doggie station will be relocated to a less visible corner of the park, which would open up the view of the mural more.

“This is dog friendly park, so the station will remain for them,” Pratt said. “We would also move the little portable library. We are going to remove barriers so the mural will be more visible from almost any direction.”

Pratt said he intends to use space on the boats to help pay for the cost of the park. He said sponsors will be able to pay to have their name or business on the boats, such as S.S. Owl Cafe for example.

Johnson said there was a little resistance from one downtown business owner who has a somewhat different idea for the park, but she said the city and DDA are willing to sit, talk and consider slight modifications of Pratt’s design with her.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.

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