Watertown unveils plans for Thompson Park’s future

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 4:18 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Thompson Park’s future is becoming more of a reality after a first draft of a master plan has been unveiled to Watertown city leaders.

From the views of the pinnacle overlook to the Watertown city skyline seen from Kite Hill, Thompson Park is an attraction for anyone who lives or visits the area.

But, its future could be even brighter as the park’s new master plan has been released with an emphasis on nature.

“Things that would not have a big impact on the natural beauty and the environment of the park,” said Watertown City Manager Ken Mix.

The plan, designed by Starr Whitehouse of New York City with the help of local engineering firm GYMO, hopes to accomplish that goal.

Brian Ashley with Friends of Thompson Park, a group that helps to preserve its historical value, says it’s the right path forward.

“I think this is a plan that is going to allow the people to come here and enjoy it 12 months of the year, perhaps almost 18 hours a day,” he said.

What’s inside the plan? During the winter months, there could be a 1,600-foot ice skating trail where the exercise circle currently sits.

There is also more development on what city leaders say is an underutilized west side of the park like a possible outdoor theater and a more cohesive trail system.

Many of the trails have already been cleared out as the city worked during the warmer months to clear invasive species like honeysuckle and buckthorn. Mix says it will only help in the future to make every aspect of the park accessible to the public.

“One of the biggest uses up in the park is walking, whether it’s walking alone or with a dog, a lot of people just go up there and walk and so that is ideal for the type of park this is,” he said.

The city has set aside more than $4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to begin the work.

Leaders expect a final plan to be drafted and ready to go by late spring.