03-29-21 | Feature

Landfill Becomes Public Icon

Baker Park in Naples, Florida
by Kimley-Horn, Orlando

Located on the Gordon River in Naples, Florida on a former landfill site, Landscape Architects with Kimley-Horn transformed this waterfront area into 17 acres of park space featuring playgrounds, picnic areas, an open lawn and trails including a pedestrian bridge over the river. By the park's entry are ample table seating and separate play areas covered with steel and fabric shade structures. Integrated into the playground is a colorful splash pad water feature and artificial turf berms are placed throughout the rubber play surfacing. In the direction of the river is the formal lawn and multi-use community center neighboring an elevated lookout.
Connecting Baker Park to the Gordon River Greenway is an 820' long bridge crossing the river at the park's peninsula. A center pavilion provides a viewing place for the surrounding mangroves at the river's edge. The bridge is 12' wide with steel cable railings and LED lighting for park and trail users.
Pathways and elevated boardwalks accommodate trail users through a variety of native plantings such as sand cord grass and silver buttonwood trees.
Covered picnic areas and trails offer views of the mangrove forests nestled in sabal and coconut palms
By using the landfill material and existing soil, Landscape Architects were able to create The Knoll, an elevated overlook with seating and terraced lawns. Topsoil covers the landfill material, creating a layer for The Knoll's structure and allows new plantings of Fakahatchee and Pink Muhly Grass to flourish.
By using the landfill material and existing soil, Landscape Architects were able to create The Knoll, an elevated overlook with seating and terraced lawns. Topsoil covers the landfill material, creating a layer for The Knoll's structure and allows new plantings of Fakahatchee and Pink Muhly Grass to flourish.
Plantings of pink tabebuia trees were placed among tables between the play areas for color and ample shade once mature. Orange Geiger trees will add additional color to this area and large palms such as the Bismarck palm will provide extra protection from the sun. A coarse textured Floratam St. Augustine sod was used in The Knoll's terraces and open lawn while a finer Bermuda hybrid covers the community center's formal lawn.
A median with young Gold Mound Duranta and Green Island Ficus adds bike and pedestrian safety by creating a flow of traffic while complementing the park's aesthetic.
Tropical Alexandra palms were planted for their ability to grow in swamped or flooded areas with salt marsh grass used as erosion control.
Paved walkways and wooden boardwalks connect to trails and greenways along the waterfront.
A series of stormwater diversions direct groundwater through bio-swales and a filter marsh before emptying into the Gordon River. Overlooks and piers were created to educate park visitors of stormwater management importance.

Baker Park is a 17-acre waterfront park located on the Gordon River in Naples, Florida. It serves as an important link between the Gordon River Greenway to the east, and Downtown Naples to the southwest, which is easily accessible from the park through on-street sidewalk and bike lane connections. The site was previously used as a landfill for yard waste and dredge material from the adjacent river. After an extensive public engagement, planning, design and construction process, Landscape Architects at Kimley-Horn's Orlando firm converted the former landfill into a beautiful park with a mix of passive and active recreation, social gathering spaces and environmental design solutions.

The park vision was to create a central gathering space for residents and visitors, with a mix of recreation opportunities, while using the landscape and park design to tell the history of the site and create opportunities for environmental education.

Issues and Solutions

The site's historic use as a landfill created an opportunity for Landscape Architects and engineers to work collaboratively to develop design solutions that would allow for landfill material and soil to be reused on-site. This was a significant change from the approach of previous park plans, studies and construction methods that had been developed that involved exporting all the landfill material to other landfills across the state and reimporting all new soil. This new strategy allowed the team to minimize disposal costs that would have been incurred if the material had to be moved to another facility, and reinvest those funds back into the park.

The solution was to stockpile the landfill material and create an elevated lookout known as "The Knoll". The landfill material creating the substructure of The Knoll is capped with topsoil that creates a barrier between the landfill material and park users, while providing soil volume for new plantings. During construction of The Knoll, settlement plates were placed at various locations and monitored to confirm that settlement was not above expected levels, and that sidewalks and stairs were constructed on stable ground. Structural fill and geo-web were also placed underneath stairs and sidewalks to help minimize potential settlement. The top of The Knoll can be accessed by an ADA accessible walkway flanked by native grasses, or through a series of stairs.

Soil Quality
A critical procedure during the construction process was soil monitoring and testing. To ensure that any material staying onsite was safely below thresholds allowed for recreational usage, soil borings and samplings were taken and analyzed. Due to the nature of the old landfill, the potential existed for methane gas to develop beneath the surface of the finished park. To address this, buildings within the park needed to have a venting system to ensure that methane could not build up within enclosed, occupiable areas. A system was designed to sit beneath the building slab, capture any methane, and vent it out safely above the roof. This design solution was a collaboration between project landscape architects, architects, MEP/civil and geotechnical engineers.

Stormwater Management
Water quality improvements were also a key goal for the project development. The park features a stormwater treatment train that is designed to intercept sheet flow and groundwater, direct it through bio-swales and into a filter marsh prior to entering the Gordon River. The treatment train and filter marsh features boardwalks, overlooks and educational signage that explain the system's design, while educating visitors about the importance of stormwater treatment and management.

Leading the multi-disciplinary team for this innovative, riverfront project was the Landscape Architect providing design services such as master planning and park programming, landscape architecture, soil testing and management planning, stormwater management, and utility design. Other services included architecture, civil, structural, MEP engineering, environmental permitting, and geotechnical. To ensure the park's design stayed under budget, the project was delivered through a Construction Manager at Risk (CM) process. The CM and design team worked collaboratively to develop pricing and constructability reviews at milestone deliverables. The project budget and Guaranteed Maximum Price prepared by the CM was $14.5 million, but with careful value management throughout the design and construction process, the project was delivered under budget and the CM returned over $1 million to the City of Naples.

A multitude of recreation opportunities were included in the primary design elements for the park which included a multi-purpose community center with concessions and restrooms sited next to a formal lawn for events and separate playground areas with equipment designed for 2-5- and 5-12-year-old children. Tables and seating provide views to the play areas for families and a splash pad is integrated into the playground. The park also boasts a nature themed playground, garden areas, and an elevated overlook with panoramic views of the river and Naples. Day docks and ADA accessible canoe/kayak launches are set at the river's edge with a stormwater treatment train and filter marsh for stormwater management. The park also features an amphitheater, sunrise terrace, boardwalks/overlooks, and trail systems for pedestrians and cyclists.


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