The Starting Point

In the spring of 2011, the city of Stevens Point, Wis., began the historic Mathias Mitchell Downtown Square Redevelopment Project.

The finished water feature is enjoyed by all. Courtesy Of City of Stevens Point, Public Works Department

The landscape architecture firm Rettler Corporation partnered with the city, from the master planning to the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The following is the process that made the project a success, as well as advice for anyone planning for a water feature.

Planning And Design

The first step to a successful water feature (fountain, splash pad, spray pad) involves public input and planning. Does the community want a water feature included in the project? Is there a need?

In the first stages of the redevelopment project, the vision for the downtown square focused on the revitalization and functional improvement to the space. The existing site was arranged in a quadrant layout with parking in three of the four quadrants, and a canopy that housed the historic farmers’ market in the fourth. The entire space was intersected by Main and Second streets.

Several task-force meetings were held with the public and downtown businesses to listen to needs, document those needs in concept plans, and then transform the plans into a master plan.

That vision created a continuous central plaza space with a water feature as a focal point, visually tying the downtown square to the nearby Wisconsin River. The plaza space was designed to draw visitors year-round, and will be the new home of the farmers’ market, nearly doubling its capacity.

Special events can be easily accommodated here with the ability to expand the space by 20 feet with a unique movable bollard layout.

Vehicle circulation was rerouted from the existing grid to include a circle drive with parallel and perpendicular parking, creating more exposure to downtown storefronts, and reducing vehicle/pedestrian interaction.

The outer walks are expansive with abundant plantings to create visual corridors and welcome shade in the summer. Outdoor café space was also created with the expansion of the pedestrian promenades on the perimeter of the square.

The landscape architect asked several key questions about the proposed water feature at this critical time:

• What is the budget for the water feature?

• Do you want a permanent pool, or an interactive water feature?

• Will it run 24/7, or will there be a programmed sequence?

• What hours will the program run?

• If the program runs at night, will there be lighting integrated?

• Is there a water source available, or must one be created?

• Are there other public facilities adjacent to the proposed fountain?

This is a reasonable list to get started because the designer needs to understand what the owner is expecting.

The landscape architect's rendering of the project. Courtesy Of Rettler Corporation

After the master-plan vision was set in place, and a water feature was definitely to be included, the construction-document process began.

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