HILLSBORO – The City of Hillsboro has unveiled the final site development plan for the Community Plaza project. Phase one of the project is anticipated to begin this year.
The site, which covers half a city block, will be installed in two parts and feature a variety of amenities for residents, from a stage to a splash pad to food truck parking.
City Administrator Matt Stiles said the ambitious project has been years in the making. Three houses were removed from the site several years ago, and today, it sits as a construction zone for the fiber optic cable project.
“I think it’s a really important project. It adds another recreational element to the community that I think is missing,” he said.
The plaza’s location near downtown Hillsboro “activates that area and gets more interest in downtown and creates recreational opportunities and community gathering points with downtown access,” he said.
The community has put its money where its desires are, with over $150,000 raised for the project in donations and grants by a dedicated committee of community partners. Herrington Municipal Hospital made a $100,000 donation last fall to the project. The committee’s fundraising efforts have also covered the cost of the architectural firm – LK Architecture out of Wichita and architect Jeff Best. Stiles said the company has a long history of designing parks.
Best worked with the committee to determine what suited the community’s desires and needs “and how best to engage the space and what elements we needed.”
Stiles added, in the final renderings, there are aesthetic nods to Hillsboro’s history and its current community export, honey. From colors to honeycomb shapes, the park harkens to the community’s heritage.
The group began working with Best in the fall and only recently finalized the rendering for the plaza. Throughout the discussion, which included input from residents and business owners, Stiles was surprised by the extensive discussion surrounding parking.
“If we turn it into a parking lot, that would be one need was met, but it wouldn’t have the same feel. It would be a parking lot, not a community space. We want people to have somewhere to park, at the same time preserving the space to make it worthwhile to be a community space,” he said.