Barnum Park to get major seating, landscaping improvements

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 5, 2018

 Barnum Park — which has a playground, sports fields and walking paths — is set to be spruced up with landscaping this year.

Barnum Park — which has a playground, sports fields and walking paths — is set to be spruced up with landscaping this year.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

BIRMINGHAM — Once the ice rink thaws at Barnum Park this spring, it will be replaced with some new landscaping, thanks to donations collected by the Community for Barnum Park volunteer group.

Barnum Park sits just outside of the city’s downtown, off of Pierce and Frank streets, with a signature arch structure, softball and soccer fields, a walking path and, of course, a seasonal outdoor ice-skating rink maintained by city staff.

Birmingham Department of Public Services Director Lauren Wood went to the City Commission meeting Jan. 22 to propose a resolution to accept the Barnum Arch Landscape Enhancements plan in cooperation with the overall concept plan for Barnum Park, conceived by designers Ron Rae and David Peterhans. BALE, as it’s been called, has been funded by community contributions, and with the commission’s approval, it would be instituted this year.

“The city is fortunate to have some donation dollars at work and the opportunity to have enhancements to Barnum Park,” Wood told the commission. “There’s $12,000 available and an additional $1,500 in donations for (architect) drawings.”

Landscaping and seating enhancements are planned from the park’s “arch” to Purdy Street. According to minutes from the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board’s Dec. 5 meeting, BALE would include new seating created from salvaged brick from the old Barnum School, capped with concrete or limestone, complemented by landscape materials like boxwood shrubs and ground cover.

Wood said the extra $1,500 would go to designer Peterhans, who will draw up the final specifications in preparation for a contract bid process.

The resolution was quickly approved unanimously by the commission. Commissioner Carole DeWeese disclosed his involvement with the volunteer group that supports Barnum Park, though he said he wasn’t directly involved with this venture.

Mayor Andrew Harris said the landscaping will be added value to any possible enhancements that could be suggested for the park in the coming weeks, when a five-year parks improvement plan is expected to go before the commission.

“This comes at no cost to the city from a group that’s been invested in Barnum for a long time — long before I came on the commission,” he said. “These are good things for the city.”

Harris said the parks improvement plan is expected to be on the Feb. 12 City Commission agenda.