Connecting People and Nature
Mill River Park Collaborative Annual Report: 2010â€“2013
It is with a sense of pride and accomplishment and, most importantly, with a feeling of deep appreciation, that we present this Annual Report on the progress in Mill River Park. This summer the Mill River Collaborative became the Mill River Park Collaborative, in recognition of the fact that there really is now a Mill River Park. We also adopted a new logo and slogan—CONNECTING PEOPLE AND NATURE. There is a lot of significance in that phrase, and it will reverberate for generations. Amidst all the concrete, macadam, and walls of offices and apartments in Stamford Downtown, a close connection between people and the environment has emerged. People can now walk alongside a restored river that once again hosts fish and wildlife. They can again enjoy the woodland meadows and wildflowers that lined most rivers centuries ago. And they can drown out the sounds of the city with the calls of the birds and the rush of the wind. What a joy to be able to lie on the grass and enjoy a lunch break only minutes from your office or savor the sunset from your own park bench. But our new slogan has another equally important meaning: that Mill River Park is all about connecting people. This past summer demonstrated that Mill River Park has quickly established itself as the people’s park—the community’s gathering place in the heart of the city. Hundreds enjoyed the pleasure of outdoor movies while sitting on the lawn and feasting on a picnic. Music was a magnet in the Park, whether it was the Stamford Symphony’s Brass Ensemble or the lively beat of our Swing Dances. Our summer playground entertainment drew children and parents from all backgrounds—a virtual United Nations—together as families and as a community to
savor the free fun. And what better way to get hundreds of people communing with nature than having them stretching and jumping with Zumba or Yoga on the Grand Steps? All of this was designed to bring people into the Park; to meet and mingle, to take pleasure and pride in what has been created, and to realize the meaning of connecting people and nature. None of this could have happened without our donors and volunteers. Our goal was to exceed expectations, and by most accounts we have definitely done that—although there is so much more to accomplish. We are most appreciative of the support we have received from all corners of the community: individuals, corporations, businesses, foundations, and the city government. We are grateful to this community of supporters who share our love of nature and our city, and who are helping us create and sustain a legacy that we will proudly pass on to future generations. And what a legacy it will be!
Arthur Selkowitz, Chairman
“Volunteering at Mill River Park is very important to me and Thomson Reuters. The revitalization of the park has recreated a nature sanctuary in the heart of the city that further enhances the quality of living. The park reflects the residential and business communities’ commitment to the City of Stamford.” MINDY WHANG EA & PROJECT MANAGER TO GUS CARLSON, EVP, CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, THOMSON REUTERS
THE STORY OF MILL RIVER PARK: A SUCCESS FOR STAMFORD AND FAIRFIELD COUNTY On May 2, 2013, Mill River Park officially opened and Stamford was changed forever. With a restored river, this major new park in the heart of the city is a civic success that is creating a legacy for generations to come. This is a real estate and municipal finance story. Over 1,000 units of housing and over $4 million in new annual municipal tax revenues were generated in anticipation of the Park, which is being funded on the Cityâ€™s part with tax increment financing. This is the story of a successful civic alliance in which Mill River Park Collaborative, a public/private partnership, is leading a $100 million project that is changing the urban landscape and economic dynamic of Stamford. Mill River Park Collaborative is under contract with the City to develop and operate the Park and has raised over $15 million to date through its capital campaign as well as over $3 million for operations. This is also an environmental triumph in which dams have been demolished, allowing river herring to spawn for the first time in 360 years. The 100-year flood plain has been contracted, resulting in lower flood insurance rates for those around the Park. Acres of land along the river have been reclaimed from invasive plants and restored to native woodland, riparian, and meadow species, bringing back a diversity of insects, mammals, and birds. In addition, this is a story about children: about their design of Mill River Playground and its wildlife murals with a river ecology theme. Itâ€™s about the fourth grade science curriculum at Hart 4
School, now being taught through the laboratory of Mill River, and how Mill River Stewards in high school are being introduced to environmental careers and getting job readiness training while helping maintain and restore the river. This is an urban design story about how a dramatic increase in open space is required to complement the increasing density of the urban core, and how improved pedestrian infrastructure has become critical to continued growth. Finally, this is the story of Mill River Park Collaborative, a public/private partnership and an example of what can be accomplished when a community unites for the benefit of the entire population and future generations.
Milton Puryear, Executive Director
Meet Mill River Park Collaborative: Connecting People and Nature WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO Mill River Park Collaborative (MRPC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to create and sustain a world-class park in the heart of Stamford. The board of the Collaborative is comprised of representatives from the City of Stamford, Stamford Partnership, Downtown Special Services District, the West Side and Downtown communities, Urban Redevelopment Commission, the corporate community, and Stamford at large. The Collaborative was established as a public/private partnership that would â€œprovide collaborative leadership in creating and sustaining a successful Mill River Park.â€? Mill River Park Collaborative was started to build and maintain a park; however, as our role has evolved, and as the community has become aware of and excited about the Park, we have seen an important unmet need. We now envision Mill River Park as a living classroom that will encourage a closer bond between city children and families and their environment.
OUR HISTORY: 100 YEARS IN THE MAKING For nearly a century, the people of Stamford have dreamed of a park in the heart of its downtown and a greenway along the banks of the historic Mill River. Now, because of the collaborative efforts of city, state and federal government, corporations, foundations, and private citizens, that dream has become a reality. A 28-acre park and 3-mile greenway to Stamford Harbor has begun to emerge, serving as a catalyst for residential development, corporate and commercial growth, and as a new venue for healthful commuting and active recreation. In short, Mill River Park is transformative, providing a new model for redefining urban life and attracting new, young residents who want to work and live in an urban environment with a high quality of life.
â€œI commend the Board, staff, volunteers and all those who support the Mill River Park Collaborative. Having this beautiful park in the heart of our city is an enormous asset for the community and one of the reasons why Stamford is a great place to live.â€? STAMFORD MAYOR DAVID R. MARTIN
MILL RIVER PARK TODAY AND TOMORROW The Park is a multi-project development. To date, we have completed the first three projects.
Project 1 Project 1 was the creation of the Mill River Playground on the corner of Tresser Boulevard and West Main Street. The playground was designed by Stamford children and built by thousands of volunteers in a one-week “barn raising” in 2006. Today, hundreds of children gather daily at the playground. This onceunkempt area has been transformed into a safe child-centered playground, and the surrounding garden provides an opportunity for children and adults to interact with nature and enjoy the 18,000 flowers planted there.
“I like it because it has ladders and there’s a castle.” ETHAN, AGE 5
Project 2 Project 2 was the Restoration of Mill River in 2009. With the help of the Army Corps of Engineers, a river that was once dammed and polluted has been restored and revived. The river now runs free for the first time in 360 years and has become the home to many new species of fish and wildlife, including river herring, eels, and minks. The 100-year flood elevations have been lowered by 3 feet in Downtown Stamford and the flood will in the future be contained in Mill River Parkâ€™s own floodplain. This will result in lower flood insurance rates for owners and developers of nearby properties.
Status: Complete 2007
”It’s been a great transformation. I grew up in Stamford and I have had the opportunity to watch Mill River Park transform into a welcoming environment where friends and families can come together and enjoy the wildlife and serene atmosphere. I am looking forward to the new additions!” SHANNON SPAULDING
“Mill River is an extraordinary addition to the Downtown. Not only is it an oasis of greenery and flowing water, but it is a place where all the new (and old) residents can walk, recreate and partake of the fabulous new events taking place there.” SANDY GOLDSTEIN, PRESIDENT, STAMFORD DOWNTOWN SPECIAL SERVICES DISTRICT
< Insert Lawn series of pictures concert picture and west side picture of flowers in bloom, include picture of Karp Great lawn, cherry tree grove – labeled >
Project 3 The completion of Project 3 in 2013 included the creation of 12 acres of surprisingly beautiful landscape in the heart of Stamford. This work included the replacement of all topsoil to provide a viable planting medium as well as the development of an intricate land-based filtration system to cleanse the vast majority of stormwater before it reaches the river. In addition, the Aquarion Rain Garden filters stormwater originating from the streets of the cityâ€™s West Side. Thousands of new shrubs and 400 new trees were added, including 70 new cherry trees. In fact, the Park now has the largest cherry tree grove in New England.
The Karp Family Great Lawn millriverpark.com
Project 4 Project 4 will be the Brownstein/Selkowitz Pavilion, which will house the Nissen Carousel. The Nissen Carousel, with its 30 hand-carved figures and a fully accessible chariot, will provide joy for children of all ages, and Stamford will become one of few cities to have a downtown carousel. The Pavilion will also include the Osman Patio and the Rich Pantry for snacks and light meals. The Pavilion, Carousel, and Patio will be available for both large and small private party rentals.
Status: Design and funding are complete, and construction is planned for first quarter of 2015. â€œWe are delighted to be a part of the Nissen Carousel in Mill River Park. We have donated a horse and, through our Twin Meadows Playground, the handicapped-accessible Chariot to help assure that all can enjoy the magic of a carousel ride in the heart of Stamford.â€? FRANK AND LORI MERCEDE
Project 5 Project 5 includes the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Ice Skating Center & Fountain and the Discovery Center Park Building. The Ice Skating Center & Fountain will provide the ideal venue for family recreation. The 9,000-square-foot ice rink will be artistically illuminated and will transform into a magical interactive fountain during the warmer months. The adjoining Discovery Center Park Building will house a restaurant, skate rentals, and the Singer Learning Center for environmental education, where children can explore the wonders of nature in the middle of the city. This 10,000-squarefoot building will be another Mill River Park architectural attraction with five terraces, including a large rooftop observation deck offering the best views of Mill River Park.
Status: The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Skate Center & Fountain, as well as provisions for skate lessons for underserved youth, is fully funded. Funding for the Discovery Center Building is underway. Design has been completed and building will commence once full funding has been secured.
“I am amazed at the impact that Mill River Park has already made on the community. In addition to being a beautiful outdoor space for all ages to enjoy, I love the family movie nights, the outdoor concerts, and all of the chances I have to get together with old friends, meet new neighbors, or just be alone in a space that uplifts my entire spirit. Generations will benefit from the vision and the hard work.” JUANITA T. JAMES, PRESIDENT & CEO OF FAIRFIELD COUNTY’S COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Projects 6–9 PROJECT 6 will extend the Park from Main Street to the old West Stamford Cemetery below Richmond Hill Avenue, extending greenway paths along both sides of the river. Status: Funding is in process, design is 60% complete
PROJECT 7, the Greenway North, will extend the greenway up to Scalzi Park. This project will include the creation of an outdoor classroom for Hart Magnet School. Status: Funding is in process, design is 60% complete.
PROJECT 8 will extend Mill River Park to Pulaski Street on the west side of the river. Status: This project involves the acquisition of new land by the City.
PROJECT 9 will extend the Greenway South along the east side of the river to connect to the Harbor Point waterfront esplanade. Status: Design is in the feasibility stage.
Some images appearing on this page are intended to be inspirational and are not actual representation of Mill River Park in its current or future state.
ONCE COMPLETE, THE PARK WILL ENCOMPASS 28 ACRES AND PROVIDE A 3-MILE ROUTE FOR ACTIVE RECREATION AND REFLECTION. IT WILL ALSO PROVIDE A WILDLIFE HABITAT CORRIDOR ALONG THE RIVER THAT CONNECTS LONG ISLAND SOUND TO THE UPPER RIPPOWAM RIVER WATERSHED.
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Mill River Park Project Plan
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Greenway north is in final design.
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Extend Greenway South to Harbor Point
Park Southern Section
Park Middle Section
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Ice Skating Center & Fountain and the Discovery Center Park Building
The Brownstein/Selkowitz Pavilion, which will house the Nissen Carousel
12 acres of landscaping, including the Karp Family Great Lawn
Restoration of Mill River
Mill River Playground
The park is not just about the plants or the calming river; it’s about the people too. It’s about the moms pushing a stroller…and the couple picnicking under a tree…The people are the foundation of the park. The park is built on water breaks during Sunday Zumba or laughter during Friday movie nights. It’s built on all the volunteers who pick up trash and plant flowers that will bloom in late spring… Where would the park be without us, and where would we be without the park? CAROLYN HOUTZ, AGE 15, MILL RIVER PARK STEWARD
Education Programs at Mill River Park A growing body of science shows that time spent in nature contributes to intellectual, social, and emotional development in young children. Understanding that urban youth often lack easy access to the natural environment, we’ve made environmental education a core focus for Mill River Park. We offer educational opportunities that allow students to connect with nature and each other. Mill River Park is already making an impact on Stamford’s youth by providing 4th grade experiential science education in the Park. Working with the Hart Magnet Elementary School, we use Mill River Park as an outdoor classroom in which 4th grade students can do field-based experiments to bring their ecology and earth science lessons to life. The program is aligned to Connecticut Science Standards and has been enthusiastically attended by approximately 375 students to date. As another means of engaging Stamford youth in the environmental sciences, we are offering the Mill River Stewards program for high school students.
“The Stamford Public School System is very fortunate to have a partnership with Mill River Park. This valuable resource, which is centrally located, is used by our students for environmental field studies as well as for the communitywide Stamford STEMfest.” CARRIE CHIAPPETTA, DIRECTOR FOR SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT— SECONDARY
The Stewards program takes a more grown-up route, not only giving students experience working in the field but also preparing them for their next steps with training in writing, resume development, and interviewing. Through exposure to environmental higher education options and job-readiness training, the Stewards program has, over the past 3 years, given 30 high school students career experience and tools to help them move forward successfully. In the future, we intend to expand these programs. We are also planning the creation of the Singer Learning Center in the Discovery Center Park Building as a space for further education, analysis, and discussion of environmental topics.
“As a life-long Stamford resident, I am elated that there are events such as yoga, Zumba and movies in the park. It’s a great way to engage both new and existing residents. Keep it going!!” VIRGINIA DERVIL
“Its like Tanglewood in Stamford.” when describing the Stamford Symphony Concert in Mill River Park
GAIL G. TRELL
Our Public Programs The cornerstone of Mill River Park Collaborative’s motto— Connecting People and Nature—is community engagement. So through our programs, we create a host of varied, fun, and engaging events for the residents of Stamford. Since the Park opened, tens of thousands of people have participated in one or more of these programs, which for many is their first introduction to Mill River Park. Park events offer the Stamford community positive and safe activities to help build a connection with nature, the Park, and each other. Our free programs include summer weekend movies, yoga and Zumba classes, Family Halloween Trick-or-Treating, and a wide range of child enrichment activities. The arts blossom along with the wildflowers at Mill River Park, with performances from the Stamford Symphony, Swing Dancing in the Park, and more. Whether attending the Cherry Blossom Festival, a fitness class, or a dance party before a sundown movie, Mill River Park has become a go-to outdoor center for culture, fun, and recreation in Stamford.
Our Volunteers—Connecting People and Nature With increasing land-care demands and a growing Park, we rely greatly on volunteers to help keep the Park pristine and welcoming. Each year our extraordinary Mill River Park volunteers—citizens from the community or from local corporations—donate thousands of volunteer hours. We at Mill River Park Collaborative are proud that so many have joined us in stewardship of their Park. Launched in 2013, Volunteer Day has been a successful initiative for getting Stamford community members to step outside, lend a hand, and make a difference. Occurring on the third Saturday of every month, this event allows volunteers to participate in raking, weeding, wading into the river to remove trash, and other duties aimed at maintaining and cleaning the Park. Corporations and service organizations also have the opportunity to volunteer. Over the last few years, these teams have constructed the Mill River Playground castle, fertilized and mulched hundreds of saplings, and cleaned out the Zichichi Rain Garden and sections of the river, among many other helpful actions.
Our volunteers worked 7,211 hours in 2014—that’s the equivalent of 3.6 full-time Park employees!
Annual Gala Each year Mill River Park Collaborative holds an annual â€œDinner in the Parkâ€? gala, which supports the Parkâ€™s operating budget. Hundreds of business, community, civic, and government leaders are joined by neighbors and friends of the Park for an evening of farm-to-table dining under a festive tent in the Park. In May 2014, close to 700 gathered for an unforgettable evening. This signature event is held on the first Thursday evening in May. Save the date!
Our Financials* FISCAL YEAR 2013 REVENUE
CITY OF STAMFORD CONTRACT
CORPORATE & FOUNDATION SPONSORSHIP
TOTAL REVENUE $7,439,229
Your Dollars at Work FISCAL YEAR 2013 EXPENSE ALLOCATION $204,440 TOTAL EXPENDITURES $1,559,507
FUNDRAISING ADMINISTRATION PROGRAM EXPENSES & CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
Mill River Park Collaborative operates on a fiscal year of July 1 to June 30. *The total revenue includes operating and capital campaign donations. millriverpark.com
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1 Brownstein-Selkowitz Carousel & Event Pavilion
5 Jaffe Heritage Cherry Tree Grove
4 Osman Carousel Pavilion Patio
2 Nissen Carousel 3 Rich Pantry
Notable Park Sites
6 Mill River Pergola (naming opportunity)
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7 Purdue Pharma Glade
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8 Sarner West Promenade Terrace
9 Clements West River Path 10 First County Bank Cherry Tree Grove 11 Zichichi Rain Garden 12 Robinson & Cole Stepping Stone River Access 13 Anne S. Richardson Fund Downtown Woodland 14 Noble Americas East River Path
16 Graham Family Overlook
18 Karp Family Great Lawn
20 Pat Phillips Knoll 21
Discovery Center in Mill River Park (naming opportunity)
Singer Foundation Learning Center (2nd floor of Discovery Center)
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19 Lotstein Way
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17 Reckson Autumnalis Cherry Grove
15 Hoffman River Ramp
23 Cullman/Kirby Family Grand Allee 24 Seaboard City Entrance 25
Steven & Alexandra Cohen Ice Skating Center and Fountain
26 Malkin Bench Arch 27 Grand Steps, a Gift of GE
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28 Nestle Waters North America Floodplain Meadows 29 Royce Topiary Frogs 30 Mill River Playground (naming opportunity) 31 Godown Fishing Pier
32 9/11 Memorial Seat Walls Gift of Brian Kriftcher
THANK YOU TO OUR BOARD MEMBERS
MILL RIVER PARK COLLABORATIVE STAFF
(as of October 1, 2014)
Arthur Selkowitz, Chairman
Arnold M. Karp, Treasurer
Nia Rhodes Jackson
Mary Shanahan, Secretary
Programs and Outreach Director
Don Brownstein Norman Cole
Gloria DePina Sandy Goldstein Robin Graham Bill Hennessey Dr. Tommie Jackson
Vincent Piselli Land Care Manager Marilyn Melfi Office Manager
Ken Jacobsen David Kooris
Supervisor of Horticulture
Jackie Lightfield Thomas Madden
Development and Membership Coordinator
Shelly Nichani Ernie Orgera
Land Care Associate
“Congratulations to one and all for the extraordinary work you have done and continue to do. The park is a wonderful asset to our community and just keeps getting better and better. We love all the excitement, activities and creative uses of the park. It is a park for the entire community, young and old. Thank you all...for this gift to the citizens of Stamford.” MARK AND JENNIFER LAPINE
Bob Phillips Jim Shapiro
Land Care Associate
Michael Widland Fabrizio Zichichi
Jeffrey Reason Land Care Associate
© 2014 All Rights Reserved. Photography and renderings supplied by the following individuals and companies: Lisa Barlow; Carousel Works; Gray Organschi Architecture; Krystal Jean-Pierre; KJ Klopstock; Olivier Kpognon; OLIN; OLIN/Will Belcher; OLIN/Sahar Coton-Hardy; Vincent Piselli; Milton Puryear; Rafeal Medina Photography; River Architects; Emily Rosenthal; Katinka de Ruiter; Shannon Spaulding; Fred Zinn. Design by Dotworks: dotworksdesign.com
Mill River Park Collaborative Board and Leadership Staff Front Row, left to right Marilyn Melfi, Robin Stein, Gloria DePina, Arthur Selkowitz, Sandy Goldstein, Stephen Osman, Alicia Wettenstein, Ken Jacobsen, Don Brownstein, Fabrizio Zichichi, Bob Phillips Back Row, left to right Vincent Piselli, Nia Rhodes Jackson, Milton Puryear, Frank Mercede, Thomas Madden, Bill Hennessey, Jackie Lightfield, Jim Shapiro, Shelly Nichani, Mary Shanahan, Robin Graham, David Kooris, Arnold Karp Not pictured Norman Cole, Harry Day, Dr. Tommie Jackson, Diana Lenkowsky, Ernie Orgera, Michael Widland millriverpark.com 39
1010 WASHINGTON BLVD. STAMFORD, CT 06901