Botanical garden, new shelter, more trees: City of Lincoln hears ideas for Van Dorn Park

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Thursday night, the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department fielded input on an upcoming master plan for Van Dorn Park.

The park is on the southwest side of Ninth and Van Dorn Streets.

The event provided an opportunity for community members to make their voices heard.

“The idea is that provides us a guide or long-term vision for making improvements to the park,” said J.J. Yost, Parks and Rec’s planning and facilities manager. “We like to develop these plans when we can for public spaces.”

Input included what parkgoers like and do not like about the park, how they travel to and from and what they’d like to see added or removed.

Yost says input from the listening session will help guide the master plan.

“We will take the input from tonight, and we’ll synthesize that into a draft plan for the park,” he said. “And then we would report back in a couple of months with a second meeting to share our findings, see if we heard people right and how they will react to it.”

He said there is a lot of interest in the park and what it could become.

There is interest in adding a botanical garden, something resident Diane Walkowiak does not think would be a good use of the grounds.

“It’s a congested area,” she said. “Putting it here in Van Dorn Park would mean destroying most of the trees, destroying, most likely, the bike trail and all of the things that people have been working hard on.”

Walkowiak would rather see more playground equipment, improvements to the tree canopy, an open shelter to pair with the existing closed shelter and removing a materials storage area on the west side.

“Either restore that to a wooded area, perhaps that old rental building could become an open shelter,” she said. “There are a lot of ideas that could be put in action back there.”

Now that the listening period has concluded, only time will tell what the future of Van Dorn Park will look like when the parks department present their draft plan in the coming months.

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