DesignAlabama is continually looking for ways to improve communities statewide and enhance quality of life. DesignDash – its latest program with those objectives in mind – recently launched in the town of Double Springs, the county seat of Winston County located inside William B. Bankhead National Forest.
Though DesignDash is a one-day community design blitz, much is accomplished in that single day. A facilitator leads discussions among community members, and design professionals focus on one design and planning issue. During the second half of the day, the design professionals work alone to create ideas, renderings and other images based on their findings.
DesignDash Double Springs took place on April 15 with one objective in mind: to study a way to transform a parcel of land along AL-195 into a pocket park that could also serve as a welcome center.
The pocket park would function as a focal point near the downtown and provide an inviting multipurpose green space that conveys the history and identity of the town. It was noted that the park could be used for a variety of community events.
A saw mill and cotton gin were originally located on the site, which is close to the location of the double springs that existed before the road was constructed. Double Springs is named for what is considered a rare phenomenon, two natural springs located side by side.
Brandon Bias, Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood community planner, led the design team composed of three Birmingham-based professionals. Bias notes that the park will serve as a reminder of the historical context of the community and provide “a point of pride for them” in downtown Double Springs.
“During the workshop, the design team also learned about the number of tourists who travel through Double Springs on their way to the Sipsey Wilderness and the Bankhead National Forest,” Bias says. “The location of the park can serve as a guidepost for them as they enter the community in hopes of drawing those tourists in to stop and visit the town, as well before entering the forest.”
Yet no amenity, no matter how appealing, is of much use if people can’t easily access it. Proposed ways to strengthen connectivity include more clearly defined walkways, barriers to separate the walkways from traffic, the use of planters and benches, along with stair access from Main Street.
The plan calls for using locally sourced materials in the development of the park such as local quarried stone for walls and buildings, field stone pavers and picnic tables made a local wood. But the first step would involve site clean-up, moving a power line and stabilizing the bluff.
Yet as Bias points out, the town will first need to explore various funding sources in order to make the park a reality. Therefore, the first phase needs to focus on raising funds to implement the ideas that came out of DesignDash Double Springs. The proposed plan created during DesignDash can be used in the community’s fundraising efforts.
“There are other steps such as developing more refined plans and construction documents,” adds Bias, “but raising funding to implement these ideas is the first phase the town should undertake.”
Mayor Elmo Robinson, a lifelong resident of Double Springs, is pleased with the guidance DesignDash offered. “They provided us with the leadership we needed to formulate a plan and helped us organize our thoughts to achieve the goal we are all very happy with.”
Dash in and dash out, and leave communities with a workable strategy moving forward. That’s what DesignDash is all about.
Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of DesignAlabama