The city has a tender out looking at redesigning the area north of the marina that was left untouched after the major reconstruction in 2009. This area is primarily used for large public events and the current home of BluesFest. The city is looking at redesigning the space to make better for patrons and business who want to use the space. As we have seen in the last couple years with major events held in this area there are significant pedestrian, traffic and general space issues. BluesFest for example has continued to grow annually and continues to bring in more and more people to a relatively small space. In order to allow these groups to continue to bring in more people we need to look at the amount of space made available to them. With the additional people there will be more pedestrian and traffic issues facing this area. Currently there is a struggle to provide enough facilities to vendors and have a site that is functional for mixed traffic. This got me to thinking about what we could do to make this site functional and attractive to events to bring more business downtown. Obviously there would be a costing issue for the City of Thunder Bay as it needs to be within a reasonable limit for the community. There would also be some type of community bash lash as the city tried to undertake its event center proposal in the same area. Add to that the fact the city and private business are still working on a 133 million dollar reconstruction at the marina and one can see the concerns. In this blog I throw those away, I take charge with unlimited funds and no population backlash. Here is my idea for the reconstructed marina park (N. Side).
Personally, I find that the area now is a good layout but its in need of more space and in need of a refresher. As more and more people come to this area it is making it incredibly cramped and showing how desperately this area needs more space. How do you make a case for spending millions of dollars to provide a couple events the area they need to bring in more people only a couple times a year. I believe the answer is 2 fold: A) More people coming to the community means more economic benefit to the community. Fees to the city for using the space, hotel rooms booked, restaurants etc etc. B) This area is already well used by the community in general, adding space to this area will only further allow them to stretch their legs and enjoy the landscape. Economic benefits and increased quality of life are two great reasons for investing this money. So lets take a look at the space as it currently stands.
This is the starting baseline for this project. It saw a little bit of reconstruction work during the 2009 reconstruction but was mostly left untouched. The road on the bottom is a 2 way street and the one looping around the lake is a one way street. There is a significant hill on one portion of the area that jets out the farthest that holds a memorial to the two cities coming together in the 70’s.
Now I believe that this project should be done in phases. In order to allow for the city to continue to use the area as much as possible and to reduce the costs associated with a project of this scale. The first portion of the project will involve infilling Lake Superior (areas highlighted in light green). The city how successful this was in providing additional space to the community by infilling little portions of the water. Here we would go a little more indepth into the water expanding the area to make it more of a rectangle then its current shape. This allows the city to more evenly distribute the new land between vehicle, pedestrian and green space. A infill of this magnitude I believe would take most of a year to complete if not 1.5 depending on the strategy to infill. Here is the range that I believe would be valuable to infill in order to make this space more usable. I am not an expert on how the flow of boats in and out of Pier 3 works so this could inadvertently affect them (good thing is an idea eh).
So now we have the area infilled we need to do things with this new found space. One of the major things would be to reroute the road system inside of the marina. When the entrance from Cumberland hits the first parking lot it sometimes can be a dog eat dog to get around. It really wasn’t properly designed to handle the extra traffic that is occurring there now. This is why I believe that the its best to reduce the parking lot in half. Leave the Eastern portion of the parking lot there but remove the western portion and replace it was a straight road. The current road around the peninsula would be pushed back closer to the edge of the new infill. Built into the edge of the infill would be a boardwalk that would allow citizens to walk along the edge of the water with areas jetting out to provide a rest area/sightseeing area. There would be a buffer between the road and the boardwalk lined with trees to provide a sound/sight barrier from the vehicles. There would also need to be some sort of retaining wall as the road would need to cut through where there is currently a hill. Removal of that hill is likely too expensive so a retaining wall would be sufficient in this case. Parking lots are laid out in blue, 2 are able to be expanded should the need demand it.
Phase 3 would see the completion of the overall project. It would see the stage area moved backwards of where it currently sits and see it increased in size to allow for larger concerts and events. The stage being moved backwards would allow for more venders, more people and more amenities to fit inside of the new space. Behind the parking lot would see a upgraded area dedicated to the unification of Port Arthur and Fort William. There would likely need to be some stairs and face work on the hill but it would provide a great lookout. The #1 on the map would be the new location for the shed that was built in 2011. I see no need for it to be destroyed after only recently being completed, moving the building over a couple feet would save the taxpayers money. The dark brown would be the paths that connect the different areas of the park together. The current set up allows for a decent movement of people around the space and some of the current paths could be saved. The expansion would mean they need to be pushed back to properly fit the new space and connections to the boardwalk would happen every so often. The dark green shows the existing areas against the new infill, some areas where left untouched to allow the user to see the current item occupying that space. In this case the bathrooms, playground and tai-chi park are left from the original satelite image.
I believe that there is a need for a large empty space for people to run around and enjoy the land. There was a big emphasis on buildings in the current reconstruction which has turned out great but left the area lacking that big open space to run. A couple pieces of art here and there (that can’t easily be destroyed) along with a couple other amenities and it would be a very nice space. What we have now works well but we could use that little bit more space to make it a really perfect environment. Clearly, I don’t know what the cost of expanding this area would be or if there is any/enough public support to push a project like this forward. This is simply my idea for the tender that the City of Thunder Bay has put out. If anything I hope they resurface the road in this section and the parking lots, they’re a mess.