My life, a work in progress.
Many communities make a big deal out of how much “green space” or “open space” they have set aside for public use, as recreation areas, green ways or parks. The community in which I work is no exception, and boasts no fewer than 5 city parks within approximately 5 square miles. However, I contend that aside from limited sports and walking, they’re rarely used.
The park immediately adjacent to me – and whose nearly four acres I observe from my office window – is half wooded, with a maintained baseball diamond, sunny playground and open field. Tall oak and maple trees shade half of the blacktop walking path that circles the park. It’s a good looking park, and well maintained. I see a handful of walkers each day, a few kids on the playground, and some summer evenings a girls softball team comes to practice.
However, the park itself is inaccessible on three sides (office building, fence/railroad, yard fences). The one accessible side is on a dead-end street with no turnaround or parking area. It seems more like an adjunct to the surrounding neighborhood rather than an integrated space, as if the city didn’t know what to do with the odd piece of land. The playground was renovated about 4 years ago but the only nearby benches are in the full sun. There are no other benches or picnic tables in the park. The baseball diamond is pretty weedy and only tended a couple times each year.
Many deterrents, under-utilized, but with great potential. The one thing missing is community involvement. It wouldn’t even take the whole community – a single person could organize events and activities, and help make the park an integral part of community life. Matching funds available from the city to encourage neighborhood projects are available. The park is surrounded by houses on two sides, and the park, with some small improvements, could easily accommodate after-school programs, sporting events, picnics, neighborhood get-togethers and other activities.
Who will step up to fill this empty green space? Or should we just let the grass turn brown?