Cadwalader Park Master Plan

   | Top | Master Plan Contents |

Chapter 1: The Planning Process


The master planning process for Cadwalader Park began in the spring of 1998, under the direction of the Department of Recreation, Natural Resources and Culture and the Department of Housing and Development. A 30- member Advisory Committee was established early in the process to provide community representation and local input for the master plan. The committee consisted of representatives from neighborhood associations, recreational and civic organizations, city agencies, elected officials, and citizens with special knowledge of Cadwalader Park or the Trenton community.

The process was planned to be as inclusive and community-based as possible. To this end, each of the Advisory Committee meetings, following the first meeting, was held in tandem with a public meeting. The purpose of this was to utilize the Advisory Committee as both an information and review board so that the materials and ideas presented to the public originated, in many instances, from the people of Trenton.

The process was organized into four stages, as described below. At each stage, materials were produced by the planning team and reviewed by the City staff and the Advisory Committee. All of the materials, including data, sketches and plans, were also made available during public presentations at various locations in the City. Members of the public were given an opportunity to review displays of the materials before each of the presentations, with the consultant team on hand to answer specific questions.

   | Top | Master Plan Contents |


Inventory and Project Scoping

Because of the complex and significant history of the park, a separate historical inventory was conducted in addition to the physical inventory ofthepark. Data archives, including those of the Frederick Law Olmsted Historical Site in Brookline, MA, were researched and summarized during the initial stage. Physica linformation was gathered about the park’s existing conditions, including geology, soils, hydrology, vegetation, access and circulation, buildings, structures, recreational facilities and furnishings, utilities and stormwater management, use patterns, and park maintenance and management, including budgets. A tree inventory surveying over 1500 park trees was compiled, detailing the species, size, form and condition of all trees over two inches in DBH (diameter at breast height).

At the same time that the inventory was being conducted, the first Advisory Committee meeting was held to discussissues, goals, and visions for Cadwalader Park. The team used this information to develop special maps summarizing use patterns and issues for presentation at the first public meeting. The inventory information was compiled as a set of maps and technical memoranda on the history and conditions of the park. Copies were provided to the City, where they could be reviewed by citizens. Thefirst public meeting also served as an opportunity for citizens to express their concerns, hopes, and visions for the park.

Program and Alternatives

Following comments from the Advisory Committee and the public, an extensive program of park activities and improvements was developed. This draft program was used as the basis for formulating a set of alternative concepts that illustrated, in diagram form, the program and plans for Cadwalader Park. Three alternatives emerged, varying mostly in degree of change, from a conservative program that primarily emphasized maintenance of existing elements, to a program of full restoration featuring many new activities.

The alternatives and park program were presented at a third Advisory Committee meeting, followed the next evening by the second public presentation. In the lively debate that ensued, the program was generally well-received, while elements of each alternative were favored over any single alternative.

Draft Master Plan

Utilizing Advisory Committee comments and public input, the consultant team developed a draft concept plan that combined elements of all of the previous alternatives. Detailed design sketches and plans were done to test concepts for several critical areas of the park before preparing the draft master plan. The draft master plan and master plan report detailed the proposed improvements for the park as well as buildings and areas requiring restoration and increased maintenance. The plan included recommendations for overall park maintenance and funding, a preliminary cost estimate, and a phasing plan.

City representatives and the consultant team presented an early “plan-in-progress” to the Mayor and City Council in order to obtain their comments before proceeding with the draft Master Plan. The draft plan report was submitted for review by the city and made available to members of the Advisory Committee. The Trenton community reviewed this draft at the third public meeting, which was followed the next day by an Advisory Committee meeting. A review period gave opportunity for written comment on the draft.

Final Master Plan

The final plan was developed after reviews by the appropriate agencies, including the D&R Canal Commission, the National Park Service, and the planning team from the City of Trenton. The Master Plan presented in this report (Figure 50) represents a vision for the future of the park that encompasses its many facets, including its rich history, varied ecology, and multiplicity of uses.

   | Top | Master Plan Contents |


The Cadwalader Park Advisory Committee served as the formal channel for integrating comments from the local community into the master plan. Although the committee represented eleven civic groups and local organizations, the planning team recognized that many park users were not part of an organized group and, therefore, may not have been officially represented by the committee. To ensure the widest possible participation in the park planning process, several outreach techniques were employed.

All of the public meetings were advertised twice in the Trenton Times, a week prior to the meeting as well as the day before. Radio spots also advertised the meetings, beginning about a week before each event. Community leaders telephoned members of their own organizations prior to the last public meeting, where the master plan was presented.

Attendees at the first public meeting were asked to complete a brief survey to determine their familiarity with the park, their reasons for coming to the park, and their thoughts on the major issues facing Cadwalader Park and the park planning process. Almost two-thirds of the meeting attendees completed the survey, the results of which are summarized in the appendix. In general, the attendees were regular park visitors who wanted to see the park become better-used, with a greater variety of activities forfamilies and children.

Informal interviews were conducted at the picnic grove late one midsummer afternoon in order to discuss park-related issues with some of the people who use the park on a regular basis, but who were not represented on the Advisory Committee or at the public meetings. Two days prior to the interviews, leaflets were distributed announcing that an informal meeting to discuss the park master planning process would take place at the picnic grove. The target group was primarily comprised of young adults who congregate near their cars, typically between 4:00 and 7:00 PM on summer evenings, playing radios and sitting on nearby picnic tables. Individuals, approached by one or two planners, were asked a general question such as why they came to the park, followed by an open-ended discussion based on a list of questions. The most striking outcome of these discussions was the similarity of the views expressed by this group to those found in the earlier public survey. As had those who attended the first public meeting, these young park users wanted to see the park provide a greater variety
of events, such as concerts and movies, as well as activities that would interest families.

Figure 1
Figure 1 - Existing Conditions, Cadwalader Park

Since Cadwalader Park is located in Trenton’s West Ward, it is not surprising that many of the participants in the public participation process were from this area, and particularly from the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the park. Nevertheless, since Cadwalader Park, from its inception, has been viewed by Trenton as a city-wide asset, every effort was made to broaden participation and to reflect a wide range of views and needs in the plan. As a result, the Cadwalader Park Master Plan is a plan for the City of Trenton.

Figure 2

Figure 2 - May Day in Cadwalader Park