Changes proposed to Capaha Park
Southeast Missouri State University students and members of the Cape Girardeau community will be able to watch the city's municipal band play from amphitheater seating or watch the Plaza Tire Capahas play a baseball game while grilling on a Home Run Deck if proposed changes to Capaha Park are made.
The improvements to Capaha Park will be funded by the Parks and Recreation Stormwater Tax that was passed in 2008, director of Parks and Recreation Julia Thompson said.
"It's one of our most beloved and oldest of city parks and probably most well-used," Thompson said. "The park acts as a gateway into downtown. So, oftentimes, one of the very first things that people really notice as they come up Broadway is this beautiful, expansive, open green space and the pond."
Two proposed plans for the park were created by the park design firm SWT Design and presented at a stakeholders meeting on Aug. 21.
City staff and community members were present to provide input on the two designs, named Plan A and Plan B, for the redevelopment of Capaha Park.
Both designs presented solutions and improvements to parking, lighting and park access, including an internal trail system and seating throughout Capaha Park.
Both plans share the idea of amphitheatre seating for the municipal band shell, a Home Run Deck for Capaha Field and bridges reaching across to the island in the center of the pond.
The two plans differ in proposals for the area where the Capaha pool was located.
Thompson said plans for the old Capaha pool area include "definitely reconfiguring a really nice picnic and playground area with potential splash pads where we could have some interactive water features, that maybe would even flow down to that pond area and help improve the water quality of the pond."
A major issue to be addressed is the accessibility of the park to wheelchair users in accordance to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"A lot of the restroom areas and pavilions and the common access areas, from parking, to getting from parking to pavilion, from getting from parking to the pond, were some things that we really just need to kind of renovate, revise, revamp, based on the assessment from our park design firm," Thompson said.
Thompson said there are some elements of each that will be taken into consideration and combined for a final plan.
Director of Recreation Services at Southeast Troy Vaughn is also a chair on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He said that although a few disc golf holes may have to be relocated with the redesign of the park, the popular game for Southeast students is not going anywhere.
Vaughn said Capaha Park brings the Southeast and Cape Girardeau communities together, and the relationship between the two will only grow stronger with the redevelopment of Capaha Park.
"Capaha Park is huge as it combines university entities," Vaughn said. "It is one of the center focal points in the community. There's something for everybody with the redesign."
Thompson said they will be taking public comment on the two plans for Capaha Park through the month of September.
Revisions will be made to the two existing plans, and one plan will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and city council between October and November. Thompson said a final plan and priority list for the redevelopment of Capaha Park will be completed by the end of the year.