Play Mud Island



Last night, I went to the first of two Mud Island public-input meetings. (The second is Thursday, May 14th, on Mud Island, fyi.)

It totally reminded me of kindergarten. Not only did participants get to say what we thought should be located on Mud Island, we got to cut out different elements — pedestrian bridges, iconic elements, skateparks, carousels, what have you — drawn on paper and position them where we'd like to see them on the island.


Each table of about eight to 10 people started with five possible scenarios from Looney Ricks Kiss Architects:

1) improve what we have now
2) one that was deemed civic/cultural
3) recreation and entertainment (with a splash park, a school, an aquarium, and the Zippin Pippin)
4) mixed use, with shopping areas (this map also filled in and relocated the marina)
5) urban waterfront with a lot of office buildings — from what I could tell — and frankly, parking ("What if Mud Island was party of downtown?")

My table chose the first scenario, I think. We liked how the amphitheater is now; we just wanted to add some more active uses to the rest of the park. We put an iconic element at the tip of the island with some sort of berm. Then we added a skate park to the tip — the drawings already had one under the bridge, but there was some talk about how that would play on television during the X-Games.

Next to the skate park, we added a splash park and, in between the two, a concession area. We added some other things, a restaurant area and a north/south pier next to it (I think this was in response to my question about if we had any pictures or colorforms of areas to sunbathe).

On the north side of the island, we kept it very passive, open space. I was pretty happy with what we had come up with — the only main point of contention was a pedestrian bridge from the Beale Street Landing to the tip — then Annette, our table's designer from Looney Ricks Kiss, said, "Let me just blow your mind."

She proposed putting a skate park on the south tip of the island, but in addition to a skate park on the north end under the bridge (where LRK had it on their plans, and where, frankly, the real estate is less valuable), with a snake run connecting the two.

I think the table definitely felt like its collective mind had been blown.

Before we got to designing, representatives from LRK noted that there were challenges to a changed Mud Island — site constraints such as what's already there, and how much of the island floods on a regular basis.

Of course, the biggest constraint will probably be funding, but it was fun to play island dress-up.

For more, you can read this week's Bluff column (now on the streets) about putting a skate park on Mud Island.

You can also give the project your input by going to the RDC's website and clicking Online Survey under Mud Island Public Meetings.

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