Editor’s note: This story has updated to remove reference to MKSK as Indiana-based.

More than two dozen neighbors turned out Tuesday evening at Nichols Middle School to discuss improvements to Larimer Park, 1200 Oak Ave.

Design firm MKSK, which has 12 studios spread through the Midwest and South, presented three concepts for the 1.6-acre site.

The park, which was last renovated in 1992, is north of Crain Street and south of Dempster Street between Ridge and Maple avenues in the Fourth Ward.

The firm’s first concept, which seemed to have the most support, keeps the park largely as it is today but adds gardens, trees and a drinking fountain.

Sean Jolie, a Fourth Ward neighbor, points to the playground area in the first proposed concept at the meeting. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

“For me, it’s concept A. Overall, this would be my top pick of the three designs,” said Sean Jolie, a longtime resident of the neighborhood.

Concept B would add more recreation space, including additional play areas – but that could come at the cost of shade.

The final concept emphasizes community gathering and play areas, expanding on concept B.

“It is the only shaded park in the neighborhood. There’s a lot of kids that play in this park in the middle of summer, and they can’t be out in the sun. It’s just too hot. That’s why I think I like this one the best,” said Sue Jolie, Sean’s wife, who also favored concept A.

Some residents, however, had trouble choosing.

“I like elements of all three of them. I love the idea of maintaining the green space and the trees and incorporating community gathering elements,” said Alisa Alexander, a Fourth Ward resident.

Fourth Ward Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma was also present at the meeting.

MKSK’s site analysis found the park has a number of silver maple and crab apple trees that have aged out, as well as elm trees that have structural defects.

“Some of the biggest challenges are the mature trees that are on the site,” said Brett Weidl, a landscape architect and project manager at MKSK. “They’re also a beloved aspect of the park. We really want to be cognizant to work around them in a way that’s not going to hurt them.”

The Tuesday discussion was a follow-up to a prior meeting earlier in the year, and a third meeting is slated for the summer.

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Manan Bhavnani

Prior to joining the RoundTable, Manan Bhavnani covered business and technology for the International Business Times, with a focus on mergers, earnings and governance. He is a double Medill graduate, with...

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