Cornell students map out plans to make Binghamton’s Ross Park more accessible

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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Cornell University students presented their Ross Park Adaptive Reuse Plan to the Binghamton’s Park’s Committee on Tuesday.

“It’s really more about improving the experience of how people already use it than trying to impose a new idea,” explained the project’s manager, Carolyn Gimbal.

Gimbal is part of the Design Connect program at Cornell University, which has students form development plans for municipalities or nonprofits. Gimbal says clients pay a $500 deposit, and in return students get a hands on professional experience to enhance and or modernize areas near the Ithaca campus.

“It can be a really affordable way for cities and nonprofits to develop plans for things like parks,” said Gimbal, a second year student in Cornell’s masters program.

In September Gimbal formed her team and they visited the grounds of the decades-old park. They canvassed the park and the community, later learning that people feel its a confusing park to drive and dangerous to walk in.

They later went to the drawing board and developed a loop trail, as seen below. It aims to connect the entire park, from the Park Avenue entrance, zoo’s new carousel and re-purposed trails through the park’s wooded area.

Ross Park Adaptive Reuse Plan
Courtesy: Carolyn Gimbal

Gimbal said the main part of the project is the loop trail so people can get from “place to place within the park.”

Other enhancements discussed on Tuesday include:

  • Enlarging the creek near the intersection of Park Avenue and Morgan Road
  • Decorative planting
  • Adding bollards to control traffic near the Park Avenue entrance
  • Beautifying park with artwork
  • Creating view of downtown Binghamton from through trees in park (See current and planned out sketches below)

Most of the trail will be re-purposed, however one section will be new. Gimbal said they’ll be using a crushed shell material that looks like gravel. She said it’s a good surface for wheelchairs and strollers and porous enough for flood waters to drain through.

Gimbal listed the estimated costs, which she said was generated through a software, of the three phases of the trail project during her presentation. They are as follows:

  1. Park Avenue Gate to Carousel : $278,473.44
  2. Carousel to Wooded Trails: $141,222.12
  3. Trails to Park Avenue Gate : $257,684.65

Sources of funding Gimbal and her team listed in the plan include the New York Environmental Protection Fund Parks Grant, Preserve NY Technical Assistance Grant, NYS DOT Transportation Enhancement Program, CLG Program Historic Preservation Field Services, and the Recreational Trails Grant Program.

Binghamton City Council members said once funding becomes available, they hope to show the recommendations to the entire city council. Leaders say that could be as early as spring, but it depends on when grant applications go through.

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Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz

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