Winooski, VT / 2020

Winooski Parks and Open Space Master Plan

A community-driven plan for the most dense & diverse city in Vermont

The City of Winooski is the most densely populated municipality in northern New England, as well as the most diverse in all of Vermont – with residents speaking 35 languages. Omnes worked with the communities of Winooski to establish a Parks and Open Space Master Plan that defines uses and programming for open space and natural lands, as well as urban streetscapes, parks, and gateways within the City. The plan put forth a larger vision for walkability and access with a riverwalk that could link streets and urban parks with three significant natural areas – Memorial Park, Cassavant Natural Area, and Gilbrook Natural Area. A series of smaller interventions in neighborhood parks was layered with active programming such as inclusive play, festivals, classes, and sports in order to serve people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. A new park was introduced in order to fill a gap in walkability, ensuring that all within Winooski are within a ten-minute walk of a quality public space. The final master plan is incremental in nature, allowing project phasing to unfold in coming years.

The plan was developed using inclusive methodologies that engaged a broad array of community voices, including extensive background research; several public meetings; key stakeholder interviews; community surveys; and signage within parks that solicited community feedback. Our planning process took an approach of community immersion, working with the civic groups that are already doing work on-the-ground in Winooski. Through an inclusive process that included translation services for speakers of Swahili, Nepali, and Arabic during all public engagement events, the plan outlined a vision for parks that serves all of Winooski’s residents. Omnes partnered with social service centers used by refugee families to gain survey information, and attended events at the cultural and senior centers to meet people where they gathered. Funded through a grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association, the Parks & Open Space Master Plan created a vision for equitable and connected public space, with the goal of having a park within a ten-minute walk of every resident.