ESF professor plans park in town 30 minutes outside of Syracuse

Devyn Passeretti | Head Illustrator

The park will include a trail system, an overlook for fishing and an imaginative playground.

The Village of Cazenovia recently joined forces with SUNY-ESF to develop a new park for the community.

Cazenovia, which is about 30 minutes southeast of Syracuse, was conducting a development survey for a patch of land in the community, which led to the idea of creating a new trail connection and playground.

Jocelyn Gavitt, a visiting instructor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, was involved with Creekside Community Park Committee, the planning committee for the park. She teaches landscape architecture design at SUNY-ESF, and offered to run the park development as a design problem in the fourth-year design studio course.

Students produced a variety of ideas that were then presented to the public to receive their input, Gavitt said. Students held a public meeting and published a website to get an idea of what the community liked and what their concerns were.

After listening to community feedback, Gavitt put together a master plan for the small park that includes a trail system along Chittenango Creek, an overlook for fishing and an imaginative twist on a classic playground.

“It will have some play structures that are more natural,” Gavitt said. “This is not a playground where you are going to see your typical swings and slides and merry-go-round kind of things, you’ll see more creative ways of doing play, with natural climbing structures.”

This project differs from most that Gavitt has worked on due to its heightened level of community involvement, she said.

“(The park) is truly going to be of the community. This is not one person’s idea,” Gavitt said. “The community process has allowed so many people to have a voice.”

One strong voice, Gavitt said, was that of Betsy Kennedy, a member of the Creekside Community Park Committee and the director of the Cazenovia Public Library.

“She had an interesting voice, and since the library is near the park, she will clearly have a lot of uses for it,” Gavitt said.

The park is to be built on Village of Cazenovia property along Riverside Drive, behind the library.

Gavitt said she hopes the site will be prepared this summer and that structures will begin to be implemented.

The village will take on a lot of the burden of constructing the site, Gavitt said. The park will have to be implemented in stages as part of a slow community process sustained by a lot of voluntary service. Since the project does not have enough funding to hire an outside contractor, the main responsibility is in the hands of the village and the village engineers, she said.

Funding for the project originated from Project CAFÉ, a student-directed nonprofit organization at Cazenovia High School that is centered on community work. Students raised a total of $17,751.87 to donate to the park, according to Eagle News Online.

Other funding came from a $26,850 grant written by the Cazenovia Area Community Development Association (CACDA), according to the CACDA website. CACDA used Project CAFÉ as momentum to get grant money, said Gavitt, who is a member of CACDA.

Getting the students and the community involved is what made the park possible, she said.

“Being in the place and time where you can generate that kind of excitement by getting the students involved with their creative ideas and seeing how that energized the community was a perfect combination,” Gavitt said. “The students got people thinking and motivated and the community really wants to get behind the park.”


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