It’s been a while since we’ve caught up with Waterloo Park, but the Waller Creek Conservancy’s project to revitalize the 11-acre space with trails, playgrounds, a large amphitheater, and other amenities built around the creek’s new intake tunnel has been underway for nearly a year now.
Of course, the tunnel itself has been in the works since 2011, and there’s been some drama since then regarding its build quality — but hey, the park looks good! The current estimated opening date is sometime in 2020, but there’s still plenty of progress worth checking out.
Here’s an inside look at the Waterloo Park construction site, courtesy of a recent tour hosted by the conservancy. When it makes sense, I’ve included comparisons with the scale model of the park we saw last year.
Here’s the current view from the north end of the park looking south towards the intake of the Waller Creek flood control tunnel. Its large cover, seen here with the wooden railings around its edge, is a cantilevered “event lawn” that will reclaim nearly an acre of park space atop the flood control reservoir.
Here’s what it looks like inside the spillway leading into the flood control tunnel. The stormwater will pass through those grates seen in the distance, which are there to catch debris that might damage the tunnel. More on that later.
This is the view from the top of that reservoir cover — everything below that concrete ledge will be filled with soil and grass, at least according to the model.
The conservancy plans to give this dead oak tree a second life by converting it into a climbable sculpture of sorts, probably destined for one of the playground areas at the park.
This spot near the park’s northwest corner may not look like much now, but it’s the future site of the park’s Moody Amphitheater, which you can see in the rendering from the Waller Creek Conservancy above.
On the southwest end of the park, the elevation change creates opportunities for creative landscaping and trails — the area seen on the right side of this collage is roughly the same as the park model on the left, so you can see what’s planned for this space.
Here’s the tunnel intake itself, complete with an attractive water feature. I mentioned earlier that the water passes through screens at the intake to catch any large debris before it enters the tunnel — the railing seen on the ceiling of the intake at the top of this image allows a crane device to travel to any section of the intake and remove debris before it builds up on the screens.
The flood control tunnel is designed to still let some water through to continue its flow down Waller Creek, and this is the beginning of that path, in the southeast corner of the park. As you can see both from the model and real-world progress, the creek takes a meandering path through rocks and trails before passing under the 12th Street bridge.
That’s all for the time being — but we’ll be keeping up with progress on this until it’s finished, hopefully in 2020. With all the development in the pipeline practically next door to Waterloo Park, its transformation is particularly noteworthy from a placemaking perspective — the amenities the park would provide in a previously fairly quiet corner of downtown could very easily ramp up the pace of residential development in the surrounding area.