The city council approved two contracts worth $3.2 million for the renovation of Overlook Park at the Great Falls National Historical Park.
Council members approved the contracts — $3,193,993 to Montville-based Applied Landscape Technologies for construction and a second $47,668 contract for administration services to Highland Park-based ETM Associates – in a 7-1 vote on Tuesday night. Funds for the renovation are being provided by the federal, state, and county government. Municipal contribution is under $50,000.
Project includes reorienting an existing pedestrian walkway and constructing a stairway to connect Overlook Park to Mary Ellen Kramer Park. Installing an amphitheater on the lower embankment of the park. Creation of a new entry plaza. Resurfacing of the parking lot with a rain garden. Establishing a new picnic area at the entry plaza above the hydroelectric plant and an area that provides a more picturesque view of the Great Falls for visitors to snap photos with the water fall as background.
Councilman Michael Jackson was the sole vote against the park renovation. Funds would be better spent on recreation facilities, argued Jackson, who represents the 1st Ward, where the Great Falls is located.
“We’re using open space money, $3 million, to put some new shrubbery, bushes, and walkways,” said Jackson. “How does this thing tie back into economic development that is impactful to the community? Where’s the projections?”
Economic development director Ruben Gomez provided a projection report to Jackson. It is estimated the Great Falls will produce an economic output of $13.9 million into the local economy, according to Gomez’s report.
Visitors will spend an estimated $10.4 million. 139 jobs will be created. $6.1 million in labor income will be produced, according to Gomez’s report.
The park saw a record breaking 177,000 visitors in 2016.
This is the second biggest renovation project at the Great Falls National Historical Park. In 2015, the city celebrated the opening of Mary Ellen Kramer Park after a two-year long, almost $2 million renovation project.
Work will start in September and be completed in a year, said officials.