Uncas Leap Heritage Park
Acquired by the City of Norwich in 2010, the area has historical significance to the community and has remained a sacred part of Mohegan Tribe history since 1643. The 1.2-acre landmark along the Yantic River is the site of the culmination of the Battle of Great Plains between the Mohegan and Narragansett Tribes.
The Uncas Leap Steering Committee
The Uncas Leap Steering Committee is a collaboration of representatives from the City of Norwich (Mayor’s Office and including city departments Planning and Community Development, Norwich Community Development Corp., Public Works and Engineering), members of the Mohegan Tribal Nation, the Norwich Historical Society, and private citizens /area residents. The Committee’s goal is to turn the Uncas Leap Heritage Area into a park for visitors and residents to enjoy. The Committee meets regularly to discuss project updates. This project has been over 13 years in the making.
The Grant Funded Uncas Leap Heritage Area Master Plan
At its heart, the Uncas Leap Master Planning process has been about creating an exceptional space on a very small (1.2 acres) but beautiful, impressive, and historically important site – a space that not only respects the site’s cultural sensitivity but celebrates it. Through the efforts of the Uncas Leap Steering Committee, this dramatic property on Yantic Street has been the subject of a ±18-month master plan design effort. The Steering Committee, with input from the public, formed a consensus on desirable design intents and proposed elements for a master plan that best suits the beauty and character of Uncas Leap Heritage Park and their vision for the park.
The dynamic river gorge with its steep bedrock formations shaped by the rushing waters of Yantic Falls creates a space with spectacular visual beauty and all-season interest nestled in a historic urban neighborhood. Uncas Leap Heritage Park has great significance associated with both a heritage and history of settlement and use by the Mohegan Tribe as well as subsequent colonial and industrial-age development. The land has been the subject of intensive studies and analysis, with a 2013 report entitled “Uncas Leap Falls: A Convergence of Cultures” being an integral planning document preceding the master plan design effort. The overall theme of the Uncas Leap Heritage Park master plan is to capitalize on the site’s natural beauty and provide for a sustainable, maintainable design that reflects, in an aesthetically pleasing and engaging fashion, the heritage of cultures long associated with the site and surrounding area.
An important economic development approach identified through this Master Plan is to build an integrated tourism strategy for the city that brings in outside energy and revenue by taking advantage of Norwich’s unique heritage— not only a re-emphasis on Norwich’s dynamic Revolutionary, Civil War and industrial history, but a parallel stress on its partnership with the Mohegans, from Uncas Leap forward to the last decades’ casino/ resort development and its importance to the city’s employment base and consumer economy.
Funding for the project was made possible through the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), as well as by the City through federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The master plan for Uncas Leap Heritage Park represents part of a comprehensive planning effort undertaken for the project site by Milone & MacBroom, Inc. The master planning process was initiated in 2015 and Milone & MacBroom completed their work in 2018.
About the Consulting Firm
SLR (formerly Milone & MacBroom) is one of Connecticut’s largest multidisciplinary planning, engineering, water resources, and design firms and has over three decades of experience. SLR International Cor. combines the expertise of our planners, civil and transportation engineers, landscape architects, and both scientific and technical support staff to apply a collaborative approach to each project we undertake. With its corporate office located in Cheshire, Connecticut, the firm is supported by regional offices located in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
In 2022, the City of Norwich decided to use American Rescue Plan funds to complete the park. SLR (formerly Milone & MacBroom) designed the engineered drawings. The plans were finalized Spring 2023 and the project went out to bid Summer 2023. Weise Construction Inc., was chosen as the contractor. Construction began August 1, 2023 and the project will be completed Summer 2024.