When your surroundings are scarred by vacant brownfields, junkyards and crumbling warehouses, pride in your community and belief in the future canbe difficult to come by. With barely 3% of this East Side Neighborhood designated as public open space, existing recreation amenities aging or in disrepair, and a higher than average number of children under 19, the Knowlton Street area needed a gathering place where
joy and optimism could take hold.
Given the complexity of on-site constraints, including brownfield status, a landfill requiring capping, and location within the 100-year floodplain, multiple in-house services came together to develop the timeline and requirements for remediation and permitting. By working in close partnership throughout the project lifecycle, the team, which included landscape architecture, civil engineering, hydrology and brownfields remediation, was able to anticipate and avoid executional conflicts and project delays.
To reestablish the community’s connection to the Pequonnock, both physical and visual relationships were considered. The boardwalk is scalloped to suspend people over the water as they walk and the fishing pier and kayak launch promote direct physical interaction with the river. Visually, the park design promotes the river as the primary focal point. From the seating arrangements in the upper shaded plaza to the open lawn and play areas, the river provides a life-affirming backdrop for family and community activities. Sustainable landscaping practices including native plantings, biofiltration swales and rain gardens ensure that the river and the park remain beautiful additions to the neighborhood.
Knowlton Park is the beginning link in the greenway chain planned to connect numerous neighborhoods and transform blighted industrial lands. The waterfront boardwalk provides the surrounding neighborhood and wider community with visual and physical access to the Pequonnock River waterway – something it hasn’t had in decades. Walking to downtown and mass transit facilities using the nearby pedestrian bridge is now a possibility and all kinds of recreation, including fishing, listening to live music, court sports, table games, walking and playground activities,
bring neighbors together.