WATERTOWN — City Council took a first step on Monday night to come up with a blueprint for Thompson Park.
Council members approved a $135,000 contract with two consultants to come up with a master plan for Thompson Park.
Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners PPLC, New York City, and GYMO Architecture, Engineering & Land Surveying, Watertown, will work together to complete the study.
Before the vote, Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said that Starr Whitehouse has experience working on other Olmsted parks, including Central Park in New York City.
The city-owned historic park was designed in the early 20th century by John and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park and many other parks throughout the United States.
The consultants will conduct an inventory and analysis of the park, get input from the public and determine a final plan development for the study.
In recent years, the city has focused on enhancing and adding trails in the park and removing buckthorn, an invasive species that has gobbled up lawns in the historic city park for decades.
City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said removing the buckthorn will help the consultants see what’s possible for the park in the future.
“Getting rid of the buckthorn will end up with a better park,” he said, adding that he envisions some of the activities that can occur near the western overlook now that the overgrowth is gone.
A master plan has become a City Council goal in recent years while there have been increased discussions about adding amenities to the park.
Council members have allocated $4.2 million of their $22 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for potential projects in the park, such as an ice rink and stage or bandstand, basketball courts, a skate park and disc golf courses in the park.
“I’m happy about a bunch of projects being offered,” Councilman Cliff G. Olney said.
Mr. Mix said the city doesn’t have a time frame when the master plan will be completed, noting that will be decided during the first phase of the project.
The city solicited a proposal from Starr Whitehouse after the firm worked with GYMO on conceptual plans to create an amphitheater at the park last year.