The Fabick Nature Preserve is a 125-acre park located in Fenton, MO that features two fishing lakes, 1.7 miles of hiking trails, and mature hardwood forest. A former estate of the Fabick family, the property was donated to the city to be used as a Nature Preserve. Many of the stone foundations and other infrastructure from the historic home remain. DG2 worked with the city of Fenton to develop a comprehensive Master Plan for the Preserve. Project goals included: improving the park’s internal accessibility, preserving and enhancing the historic character of the site, providing programmatic elements that will make the park more of a destination, and encouraging bio-diversity through environmental stewardship.
An in-depth analysis of the site’s existing conditions was synthesized to determine the opportunities and constraints for the design. Using this analysis as a guide, DG2 developed a park Master Plan that focuses on the enhancement of the most interesting natural and historic features of the site while providing universal access to as many elements as possible.
Several drainage ways exist on the site, most of which run through the woodland areas (mostly on steep slopes), and into the ponds. The north eastern portion of the site lies within a significant flood zone of the creek near Larkin Williams Road; this creek empties directly into the Meramec River just a little over a mile downstream. The drainage ways on the eastern portion of the site that lead to the creek create a boggy area in the clearing just north of the wooded edge. Both ponds on site are currently used for fishing and general aesthetic value, with Preslar Lake being the more heavily used – likely due to its relative ease of access (though fishing conditions could also play a role).
The site has varied topography, a great deal of which is moderately steep to very steep – the flattest areas are near the entrance on Larkin Williams Road and around Preslar Lake. The low point of the site is the north eastern corner near the creek and Larkin Williams Road, and is mostly in the flood zone. The high point, located in the southern most portion of the site, offers potential for great views. Some of the steepest slopes are located within the woodland to the east. These steep areas should be carefully considered in regards to safe access for users.
LAND COVERAGE + HABITAT ZONES
The site is primarily composed of hardwood forest and open field, with a small portion being maintained as open field with sporadic tree stands. Most of the forest is high quality mature hardwood with plenty of ecological and aesthetic value. The open field areas are mostly non-native turf grasses that are mowed. The hybrid field/forest area on the high point at the southern end of the site is an interesting feature, as it consists of a grove-type planting of specimen trees from around the world.
The existing infrastructure on site is fairly minimal, and generally in need of improvement. There are currently two entrances – one off of Larkin Williams Road to the east, and one off of Fabick Lane to the south. Existing gates and/or signage at the entrance areas are either in need of updating or non-existent. Existing roadways on site are asphalt and gravel, with a small portion of cobblestone near the old home site. In general the roadways need surface improvements if they are to remain. There are three areas for parking – one at Preslar Lake, one near the old home site, and one at the pinch point of the property.
Notable elements of the preliminary Master Plan include habitat and ecotone enhancement, an educational nature trail, lawn to prairie conversion, pond buffers, observation areas, and a pavilion and demonstration garden built within the remnant foundations of the old home site.
Infrastructure improvements are also proposed, including new entrances, roadways, and parking areas. The design team also considered the overall connectivity of the Nature Preserve within the larger framework of nearby public greenspaces. There are multiple other parks nearby, several of which are within a 10 to 20-minute walk. There is also close access to a greenway that interconnects many of the parks. DG2 evaluated these adjacencies, and suggested wayfinding signage or planned future phases of pedestrian connections to and from the Nature Preserve.