Landscape Management

Stewart Park Landscape

The park landscape – its lakeside location, panoramic views and beautiful mature trees – is most memorable for those who visit and use Stewart Park.   While it is fitting that our park revitalization efforts address the considerable park building needs, it is equally, if not more, important that we address critical improvements the park’s landscape and site infrastructure.

Following are many of the landscape and site issues that are key to our park revitalization efforts.  Scroll down to browse all or click to jump to topic:
Cayuga Waterfront Trail within Stewart Park
Main Park Entry Planting
Mayor Stewart Memorial Flagpole Garden Restoration
Renwick Wildwood Interpretation & Ecological Restoration
Additional Park Landscape & Site Improvements
(includes paddling facilities, park furnishings, signs, parking, the geese issue, and more…)

Cayuga Waterfront Trail within Stewart Park

In 2015 the City of Ithaca, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce’s Cayuga Waterfront Trail Initiative, completed the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, a 6-mile long, multi-use trail that links Stewart Park to the Visitor Center, Farmers Market, West End and Cass Park.  Plans are in the works to continue the trail northward on the westCayugaWaterfrontTrail_StewartPark_Ithaca_2015_wt side of Cayuga Lake to link to the Black Diamond Trail. The Within Stewart Park the Cayuga Waterfront Trail has brought new vitality and a much needed safe and accessible way for park users to enjoy the park. The portion of the trail that is within the park was completed in 2010 at a cost of $450,000.  Future plans to enhance the Waterfront Trail within the park include creating an intra-park trail loop by linking the main park entrance to the Flagpole Garden, proposed new playground, the Lagoon area, and the trail entry to the park at the pedestrian bridge and boardwalk.
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Main Park Entry Planting

Friends of Stewart Park, the City of Ithaca’s Streets and Forestry Crew and the Ithaca Garden Club designed and installed a new entry planting with perennials, ornamental grasses, and bulbs at the main entrance to the park. This new entry planting was installed in 2014 at a cost of $7,500 with the assistance of City crews and  volunteer labor provided by the Ithaca Garden Club and the Community Beautification Program .  Future plans for enhancing the park entrance include the installation of a new stone entry sign to match the historic stone entry columns and to mark the main entrance to the park from James Gibb Drive and Route 13, as well as new welcome and wayfinding signs to greet and guide visitors upon entering the park.
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Mayor Stewart Memorial Flagpole Garden RestorationRibbon Cutting WEB

Friends of Stewart Park with the assistance of five City of Ithaca Mayors (Judge Raymond Bordoni, William Shaw, John Gutenburger, Alan Cohen and Carolyn Peterson), City Streets and Forestry Crews, and the Ithaca Garden Club raised funds and led the restoration of this historic memorial garden that honors Mayor Edwin Stewart.  Mayor Stewart led the City’s efforts to purchase and open the park for public use in 1921 and donated $150,000 towards park improvements. The Flagpole Garden restoratioMayorStewartMemorialFlagpoleGarden_StewartPark_IthacaNY2015_wtn was completed in 2012 at a cost of $35,000. The first phase of the Flagpole Garden was completed in November 2011 with plantings designed and installed by the MayorStewartFlagPolePlaque_StewartPark_IthacaNYIthaca Garden Club in 2012.   Photos are available on the Facebook page for the Cayuga Waterfront Trail Initiative.

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Renwick Wildwood Interpretation & Ecological Restoration

Friends of Stewart Park with the support and cooperation of the Cayuga Bird Club, designed, fundraised for and installed an interpretive panel that tells the story of the Cayuga Bird Club successful efforts in 19___ to save the Wildwood and describes the floodplain forest vegetation,and the birds that inhabit the Wildwood. The panel was installed in 2014 and cost $6,000. LINK TO VIEWABLE IMAGE OF THE PANEL

In FSP Board Member and Landscape Architect Miguel Barrios received support from the Toyota Green Fund for a restoration project in the Renwick Wildwood, adjacent to the southern edge of Stewart Park and part of the City-owned lakefront complex that also includes Stewart Park and Newman Golf Co11011900_401088063417613_9211079147401662645_ourse. The restoration project’s purpose was twofold. First, it aimed to restore the ecology of the forest by removing invasive plants (privet, honeysuckle, etc.) and filling the gaps with replacement native trees and shrubs. Second, the project built environmental literacy within the Ithaca community by engaging stakeholders in community conservation activities. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2015 groups of volunteers gathered at the Renwick Wildwood (commonly known as the Fuertes Sanctuary) and removed Privet from approximately 5 acres of forest.  In these areas the volunteers also planted more than 500 native trees and shrubs, plants that would historically have been found in the ecosystem, and others that are already growing there but have not been able to successfully regenerate due to pressure and competition from the invasive species.  The project has improved the forest’s ecology, and a walk through the forest reveals a the substantial work accomplished thanks to the efforts from our volunteers.  More than 55 volunteers participated in these work events and more than 35 participants attended talks and associated social events.   Project partners included the Ithaca City Forester, Cornell Cooperative Extension, New Leaf Environmental, LBS Ecological Design, Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District, Audubon, and The Plantsmen Native Plant Nursery.
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Additional Park Landscape & Site Improvements

Following is a list of site and landscape issues that will be addressed during the five years of preparation for the 2021 Centennial Celebration.

Trails and Accessibility: Completing a Waterfront Trail loop is a high priority, along with developing additional pathways to improve access to the park and its facilities.

Road and Parking Improvements: No significant changes to the park road and parking facilities are recommended, however there are many small improvements to parking areas and roadway edges that should be made over time. FSP and the City must address concerns that creating new and improved park attractions will put new demands on the road and parking infrastructure.

Lighting and Electric: Lighting should be addressed as part of any significant building and landscape projects. Other important improvements, including burying or relocating the high-voltage overhead electric lines that pass through the center of the park, are expensive and long term projects.

Stormwater Drainage and Sanitary Sewer: The park’s stormwater management system does not reflect current best practices.  Providing more natural drainage systems, where feasible, will help to cleanse reduce nutrient loading of stormwater runoff before it reaches Cayuga Lake.  Storm and sanitary sewer service should be upgraded as building projects are implemented.

Water Service and Drinking Fountains: Functional and accessible drinking fountains should be installed as projects are implemented and along the Waterfront Trail. Water service to key gardens should also be considered to enhance maintenance.

Signs: FSP and WSM have designed high-quality and new interpretive signs for some buildings and park landscapes. New wayfinding and identification signs are also needed at the park entrance and at key destinations.

Waste and Recycling: Despite a carry in-carry out policy, waste receptacles are now provided at heavily used areas in the park. New, attractive and functional waste and recycling receptacles should be provided in these locations.

Energy: Opportunities should be explored to produce energy on-site, including solar, wind, and geothermal as building projects are planned and implemented

Waterway Edge Stabilization and Improvements: Erosion is evident along most of the waterway edges – Cayuga Lake, Fall Creek, and the Lagoon Area. The most urgent area to address is along the east bank of Fall Creek near the Cascadilla Boathouse where the parking area and docking facilities are threatened by erosion from the fast-moving and energetic waters of Fall Creek.

Managing the Canada Geese Population: For many visitors and regular park users, the large population of resident Canada Geese and their abundant and very evident excrement is a key issue in improving Stewart Park. FSP with the City is working on a program based on a US Department of Fish & Wildlife program called “Geese Peace” that should, over time, significantly reduce the population in a manner that we expect to generate minimal controversy. In addition, acquisition of a goose waste sweeper is also being explored.

Important Bird Area Initiative: Stewart Park is a designated Important Bird Area and one of the best birding sites in Tompkins County and the Finger Lakes region. Landscaping with the goal protecting and enhancing birding includes developing plant lists and guidelines for new park plantings that are bird-friendly, removal of invasive species in the Renwick Wildwood and Park, lake and waterway edge restoration and plantings that stabilize the edge while enhancing habitat, creating a meadow buffer along water edges for stabilization and habitat enhancement, and providing more educational and interpretive information about the birding opportunities and importance of this site.

Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail and Paddling Improvements: A recently completed Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail Master Plan identified Stewart Park as one of Ithaca’s key launch and landing sites.   Improvements being explored include the following: 1. installing canoe and kayak outdoor and lockable storage racks; 2. Developing a launch and landing site at the east end of Stewart Park; and 3. Improved and more accessible docking along Fall Creek that can be shared with the Cascadilla Boat Club.

Gardens and Landscaping: FSP, the City and the Ithaca Garden Club have provided new plantings at the park entry, the Memorial Flagpole Garden and along the Waterfront Trail. Strategic new plantings should be implemented along with developing a maintenance strategy to ensure they are properly maintained.  Mature shade trees should be protected and preserved.  Shrubs should be inventoried and unattractive or invasive shrubs removed over time, and replaced with native shrubs or other attractive and more environmental benign selections.

Tennis Courts and Lawns for Active Recreation: Consideration is being given to how to upgrade and diversify the under used tennis courts by improving the surfacing, netting and windscreens, and by reusing 1 or 2 courts for pickleball and basketball.
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