AUBURN — Preliminary soil and ground water tests for the future community park space at 1-7 State St. — the site of the former Kalet building — came back "non-detect" for contamination, Ted Liddell, a landscape architect with Bergmann Associates, said during a public meeting Monday night at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Given the site's history of lawsuits based the environmental testing, Liddell said the company's environmental scientists looked at the previous testing results and expanded their testing "just to cover all of the bases."   

The land was tested in five different areas for contaminates, such as petroleum, volatile organic compounds, pesticides and PCBs. Two samples were taken from each spot and compared for the most accurate results. Liddell said there was a discrepancy with one of the ground water samples, so that one will be retested to ensure no pollutants are present. 

"So far the preliminary results have shown that there's nothing to worry about," Liddell said. 

Liddell also unveiled four possible park designs during the meeting. The concepts were designed using ideas from the previous public meeting, including a stage for performances, green space and water features. He said the park will have a mix of contemporary and traditional design features. 

The first design features a large green space surrounded by built-in wall benches, foliage around the perimeter and a shaded stage platform. Design two is more of a plaza, with a paved center, overhead lighting, a water feature and movable seating. The third design also includes green space, along with a band shell, public restrooms and light posts with built-in charging stations. Design four features a paved center with a checker board design for large checker and chess games, along with a water wall and planters and trellises for greenery. 

All four designs incorporated a stage, foliage, lighting, seating, bike racks and the potential for an ice skating rink in the winter.

After the designs were presented, those in attendance were asked to write down what they liked and did not like about the each concept, as well as write down a name and choose their favorite overall design. Concept three seemed to be the most popular option. 

"There might be something in each one that you really, really like and there could be the opportunity that some of the elements from each of the four concepts could be combined into the final concept," Liddell said.  

Auburnian Jack Hardy said the concepts were "interesting" and he liked different elements of each design. Hardy, who helps organize the Founders Day car show downtown, said the park will be a attractive feature for visitors. 

Jane Stebbins, the president of the Music United Foundation in Auburn, attended last month's meeting and said the architects did a "phenomenal job" with the designs. 

"I think they listened to us and put a lot of time and care in constructing all four park concepts," Stebbins said. "Out of the four, you certainly could garner pieces of each to create one amazing park."

Stebbins pitched the idea at the last meeting to name the park after Thommie Walsh, a two-time Tony Award winner from Auburn who died at the age of 57. Several other people suggested naming the park after the performer as well. 

Thommie's sister, Barbara Walsh, was at the meeting and said it is "pretty exciting" that the park could be named after her brother. 

"I think my brother would be extremely proud and honored to know that the Auburnians were thinking of him and wanting to name something after him," Barbara said. "I think he would be thrilled about it." 

Anyone who has additional ideas or comments can submit them by email to Auburn's Office of Planning and Economic Development Director Jenny Haines at jhaines@auburnny.gov, or Kimberly Baptiste, a practice leader at Bergmann Associates, at kbaptiste@bergmannpc.com.

Staff writer Natalie Brophy can be reached at (315)282-2239 or natalie.brophy@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @brophy_natalie. 

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City Reporter