Irvingdale, Stransky, Rudge Parks

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Irvingdale, Stransky and Rudge Parks are beautiful, contiguous, historic parks located in the heart of Lincoln. The parks stretch from 14th and Lake Streets to 20th and Van Dorn Streets and are surrounded by some of Lincoln’s oldest neighborhoods, providing green space and recreational opportunities to neighborhood residents. Our vision is to implement a comprehensive master plan developed for complimentary and cohesive renovation and improvement efforts for all three parks. Specific projects include renovating existing and age playgrounds, improving under-utilized park areas, constructing stream channel stabilization measures, replacing park infrastructure, building a connecting trail corridor and adding new amenities to increase recreational opportunities in this under-served, dense area in the core of the city.


Critical Park Enhancements 

  • ADA-accessible playgrounds in Rudge and Irvingdale Parks 
  • Pool and bathhouse renovations for Irving Pool 
  • Basketball court in Irvingdale Park 
  • Day use facilities and picnic shelters in Rudge and Irvingdale Parks 
  • Channel stabilization along a drainage way running through Irvingdale Park 
  • Hard-surfaced trail corridor/loop connecting all three parks 
  • Drinking fountain with pet bowl in Irvingdale Park 
  • Interpretive/educational exhibits in Irvingdale and Rudge Parks 
  • Renovated parking facilities near the pool and tennis courts in Irvingdale Park. 

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Master Plans

For more information or to get involved, contact the Lincoln Parks Foundation, director@lincolnparks.org or 402-441-8258


Park History

Irvingdale Park

A 15-acre park located at 20th and Van Dorn, named in proximity to Irving Junior High (Irving was named for American author Washington Irving, whose works include "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.") In November of 1916, Mark and Clarke Woods deeded a portion of their land in the southwest corner of Lincoln to the city. This “strip of ground” as worded in the official deed, eventually would become one of Lincoln’s oldest parks. 

From 1916 until 1923, the little neighborhood land was called Van Dorn Park. However, in 1923 the park was closed due to little community interest. Six years later, the park was reopened with a facelift and a new name. Three junior high girls--Edith McMahon, Clarissa Bennett, and Helen Boyd--named the new park Irvingdale. The new park reopened in October of 1929. 

The Irvingdale neighborhood enjoyed their community park for many decades. An idea came in 1954 in an effort to improve the park even further: a neighborhood swimming pool. However, this swimming pool was not met with overwhelming support. A petition was started early on in the swimming pool’s planning. By early 1956, nearly forty signatures were signed on a protest against the location of the new pool. Many homeowners were concerned that the location of the pool and increase of traffic that the pool would cause would mean their properties would be devalued. After several edits of the pool’s location and structure, the plan and budget for the Irvingdale pool was approved by City Council by February of 1956. Construction moved quickly on the Irvingdale pool, with its completion just in time for summer by late June of 1956. 

Throughout the next few decades and continuing into the present, the Irvingdale Neighborhood Association maintained the beauty and recreational qualities of Irvingdale Park. Community members consistently stepped up to maintain beautification of their park, and came forward in 1998 with plans to make it more friendly and accessible. The Irvingdale Neighborhood Association wished to build a playground in their park, with the help and funding from the Parks and Recreation Department. After a year, in 1999 the playground was completed. Irvingdale became a haven for community members and students at nearby Irving Middle School, which it still is to this day. 

Rudge Park

A 6-acre park located at 14th and Lake, named to honor prominent Lincoln department store (Rudge & Guenzel) owner, Charles H. Rudge, whose 1926 estate gift to the Lincoln Parks Department allowed for the renovation of the park in the late 1940s. 

In late 1953, Lincoln City Council voted to replace Harrison Street Lake, a 60-year natural landmark, with an open ditch storm sewer and playground. 

In a heated debate with multiple different options introduced, City Council decided to replace a majority of the lake to make room for a park and a storm sewer, but part of the lake not used for these purposes can still be filled and maintained as a small pond for fishing and ice skating. 

By February of 1954, City Park Advisory Board decided to use the Charles H. Rudge Memorial Fund to beautify and develop the Harrison Street Lake. 

Soon afterward, a portion of Harrison Street Lake was filled, along with the closing of 16th Street in the area. Rudge Park was created, along with a natural ice skating rink in northeast section of the park, formerly the northern section of Harrison Street Lake. This created a vein of parks in the Irvingdale neighborhood that provided a variety of activities for the Lincoln community. 

Irvingdale Neighborhood Association worked to make Rudge Park and Irvingdale Park more family and child-friendly, including removing old playground equipment and purchasing new swing sets, slides, and digging devices. After 3 years, the playground equipment at Rudge Park was assembled and opened for all children. 

Today, Rudge Park is a part of the vein of parks stretching throughout the Irving neighborhood in soutwestern Lincoln. The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department intends to connect this park, along with Irvingdale and Stransky Parks, via paved trail to create a recreational pathway for all types of recreation.

Stransky Park

Home of the Stransky Park Summer Concert Series, located at 17th and Harrison. This park was named to honor Angeleen and Leonard Stransky, prominent Lincoln grocers who funded the rehabilitation of the park in 2003. 

Stransky Park is a fairly new addition to the ever-growing family of Lincoln parks. Boasting iron fencing, beautiful landscaping, and a natural-style waterfall, Stransky is considered a jewel in the Irving neighborhood. It is a point of attraction for visitors, families, and weddings. 

Stransky Park started its origins in 1994, when a donation was made from retired grocer Leonard Stransky and his wife, Angeleen. The couple donated more than $1 million to the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department. The intention with this donation was to create a park featuring a waterfall, fountain, playground, gazebo, and picnic area. This big dream was intended for a small space, between 17th Street and Perkins Boulevard. 

By 2001, a majority of the park was completed. The park land was separated with iron fencing and landscaping was forming. However, Stransky Park had many projects still in development: the creation of a natural-style stone waterfall, fountain, gazebo, and toddler playground. The waterfall and gazebo were underway early on, with an intended completion date for summer of 2002. 

In late 2003, Stransky Park was officially opened and dedicated to the city. A natural waterfall flowed and children played on a new toddler playground. All of this was surrounded by iron and brick-column fencing. Angeleen Stransky was present for the park’s dedication and opening. Leonard Stransky had passed away in March of 1998, and did not get to see his park completed. However, Angeleen mentioned that her husband mentioned that donating the funds to create park land was one of his most important days. 

“This is my day,” he said. “I love Lincoln.” 

Today, Stransky Park is a hub in southwestern Lincoln. It is a member of the vein of parks stretching throughout the Irving neighborhood. It is a host for a summer concert series hosted by a local radio station and a prime location for weddings.

 

 


Funding and Park Updates 

Project updates will occur periodically. Please check back in the future! 

An Update on the Irvingdale-Stransky-Rudge Parks Campaign

April 2022

Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department and Lincoln Parks Foundation recognizes how important the Irvingdale-Stransky-Rudge Parks Corridor is to surrounding neighborhoods. We appreciate your patience as we have navigated this process and are thrilled to share significant progress has been made (and much more is coming!).

Many neighbors will remember a master plan was developed for the three-park corridor of Irvingdale, Stransky, and Rudge Parks in 2016-2017. With financial support from many neighborhood associations, Lincoln Parks & Recreation, and Lincoln Parks Foundation, designers from Big Muddy Workshop created a master plan that encompassed many improvements throughout all three parks, emphasizing the usability, safety, and experience in these parks.

Fundraising Journey

Since then, Lincoln Parks & Recreation and Lincoln Parks Foundation have worked on a funding strategy for the master plan. In August 2018, an application for significant federal funding was submitted to nationally competitive grant programs for urban parks within the National Parks Service. The application required evidence of 1:1 matching of the federal dollars. Thanks to the generosity of many neighbors and support from the City, the match was achieved. Unfortunately, the project was not selected for funding.

In September 2020, Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department learned of and applied for a state-level grant for the project. While the funding available was not as much as our previous application, it would allow us to complete a significant portion of the master plan. As with many government programs, the pandemic delayed action and notice on this application. However, patience has been the “name of the game” on this project. And, after a long wait, we are thrilled to report that the project was selected for funding! FINALLY!

Project Scope

Olsson has been hired by Lincoln Parks & Recreation to provide engineering services needed in development of the construction documents. Work has begun in earnest, as Olsson has completed the topographic survey of the parks and provided a preliminary set of plans for park improvements that is under staff review. Combining the grant with the previously secured private dollars and municipal dollars, we will be able to include the following components in the renovation:

Irvingdale Park

  • Remove existing parking lot, reconfigure for traffic flow, and replace
  • Remove existing playground and replace
  • Add new park shelter and picnic facilities
  • Extend the perimeter pool fence to include green space inside for patrons
  • Add concrete walking paths to connect to Stransky Park/Rudge Park
  • Install brick entrance markers/columns at multiple entry points around the park perimeter

                                               

Rudge Park

  • Add new park shelter and picnic facilities
  • Add concrete walking path that loops the park and connects to Stransky Park
  • Remove existing playground and replace
  • Close/remove the segment of 16th Street between Harrison Street and Lake Street, reestablish turf and create contiguous park space
  • Regrade former pond with limited retaining walls along the southwest corner to increase opportunities for recreational play
  • Preserve of the ‘island’ using stone salvaged from pond perimeter
  • Install brick entrance markers/columns at multiple entry points around the park perimeter

Stransky Park

While the master plan called for several changes to Stransky Park, due to limited funding, there will be no improvements made in this area as part of the current project.

Timeline

On April 26th, Lincoln Parks & Recreation will host a public open house at the park shelter in Stansky Park where staff will be available to share plans for both park improvements and the 16th Street vacation. All neighbors are encouraged to drop in anytime between 4:30 and 6:00 pm to view plans, ask questions, and provide feedback. Following the open house, a formal petition to vacate 16th Street will be submitted to the Planning Department, which will commence the City review process and conclude with a public hearing at a Planning Commission meeting. Once all plans are finalized, the project will be advertised for bid.

Assuming weather holds and the municipal processes go as planned, construction is anticipated to begin in July 2022.  Construction in the area of Irving Pool will be limited until the conclusion of pool season to minimize disruption to normal pool operations. Unless delayed by weather and/or the availability of materials or labor, construction should be completed by the end of the calendar year, with only final landscaping carrying over to Spring 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions we have received from neighbors about the project.

What about the civil defense shelter in Irvingdale Park? Will it be removed and turned into a soccer field?

At this time, no. Demolition of the civil defense shelter is both financially and logistically challenging. Preliminary estimates to dismantle and remove the shelter exceed $1,000,000, which is well over funding we have available for the project. Logistically, it is also a place of significant off-season storage for the Department. There is currently not a location identified that could house equipment in the off-season, so maintaining this space is critical. It should be noted that the Department will likely be replacing the roof on the shelter with some expediency as we currently face significant leaking inside the facility.

Will we lose parking stalls at Irvingdale with the new configuration?

No, reconfiguration of the parking lot will provide easier access to park amenities and better facilitate pool drop off/pickup traffic while continuing to offer approximately the same number of parking stalls in a more organized fashion.

Why are no improvements included for the area around Stransky Park?

As many neighbors will recognize, Stransky Park has been the recipient of a great deal of support and enhancement over the years, thanks in large part to generosity of the Leonard & Angeleen Stransky and the Trust that bears their name. When the team was considering improvements that could be funded with the limited funding currently available, it was decided to focus on Irvingdale and Rudge Parks.

Will the playgrounds at each park be different?

Yes! The goal is to have each playground provide a different user experience and be geared toward different age groups. Currently, the Stransky Playground is geared towards children under the age of 2 to 12. The new playground to be installed at Rudge Park will feature multiple swings of varying design. With its adjacency to Irving Middle School, the new playground at Irvingdale will be geared towards older children with play equipment designed for more active uses such as climbing.

Will there be a lighted pedestrian crossing across 17th Street at Harrison?

At this time, no. The average daily volume of vehicles traveling 17th Street between Harrison and Lake Streets and the number of pedestrians crossing 17th Street at this location do not warranty the installation of a signalized crossing. Lincoln Traffic and Utilities periodically updates these traffic counts and will adjust should the number of pedestrian/vehicle conflicts warranty such action.

The channel through Irvingdale and Rudge Parks seems overgrown and at times unsightly. Will something be done about this?

The Parks & Recreation Department coordinate with the City’s Watershed Management Division and the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District to manage drainage ways to effectively convey storm water runoff while maintaining stabilized channel banks. Department staff will seek their guidance and manage vegetative growth within the channel as resources permit.

Update presented by:

  • Maggie Stuckey-Ross, Executive Director, Lincoln Parks Foundation
  • JJ Yost, Planning & Construction Manager, Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department
  • Kaylyn Neverve, Park Planner, Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department