Enthusiasts set up a small temporary park all day Friday at the corner of Chapel and College streets to celebrate New Haven’s open spaces. Some passersby joined them, while others thought they were crazy.
They set up real turf, a tree and two big plants in pots, and several lawn chairs, all surrounded by mulch. There organizers (pictured left to right, Justin Elicker, Claude Saunders, David Streever, and Ilissa Kelman, mother of Claude) and a visitor sat enjoying the park-like atmosphere, as cars and buses rushed by.
Streever said National Park(ing) Day is a protest in many cities, to call attention to the lack of parks. But he said in New Haven there’re lots of open spaces. “So we’re here just to celebrate parks, the park system, and encourage people to use the green spaces we have.” He added, “There definitely is a statement, too, about the over-motorization of cities and the overuse of the city as a parking lot.”
Sometimes they relinquished their seats to passersby like Richard Wurtzel of New Haven (pictured). “I was walking by, heading off to the bank. They invited me…I said, I’ll be on my way back – I’ll bring some lunch.”
Wurtzel lives downtown and spends time on the Green and in East Rock Park. He loved the idea of National Parking Day. “I think it’s a good way to let people know about [the parks] and a reminder for people who do know about them to continue to use them.”
Streever said all the elements of the temporary mini-park would be transplanted to New Haven’s full-time, permanent parks.
To show its support, the city donated two parking spaces rather than make organizers feed the meters.
posted by: anon on September 19, 2008 4:16pm
A roundup from New York City:
Imagine the park extending along the whole strip of street parking, and how nice the street would be as a place to hang out. If only we had that vision. Unfortunately, we don’t, and our kids (especially urban kids) suffer by having no place to go.
Wonder why child obesity rates are so high in the central city? It’s because 40% of the land in our city is dedicated to automobiles, ironically, making it impossible to go anywhere.
posted by: DAFeder on September 19, 2008 6:51pm
Ha! I love it. I can picture the guy sitting in the right lane with his blinker on, thinking, “are they pulling out of that space? I think they’re pulling out. I’ll just wait one more minute for them to pull out…”
posted by: Streever on September 19, 2008 9:12pm
Indeed, there were several moments where people would pull along, with blinkers on, and each time I thought it’d be funny to say, “We’ll only be one minute! We’re pulling out!” Of course I have a lousy sense of humor.
posted by: cedarhillresident on September 20, 2008 8:20am
Totally cool guys!! I can’t believe you used real grass! I would love to see this done a a massive scale!
Just something I noted. We have no parking in New Haven! When I went down last night to sit in the make shift park I could not find a spot in a 3 block area! Hmmm
posted by: Josh Smith on September 20, 2008 12:51pm
CedarHill, that’s why you should start riding your bike around the city. There is no parking for cars, but there’s increasingly more parking for bikes downtown. I’m starting to see a lot of bike racks and stands around. And it’s free, whether you use those or lock up to a meter! Just make sure you lock it up the right way (both tires and the frame).
Additionally, if you don’t feel like going really far on your bike, pop it on the front of a bus—I do that a lot because it’s so easy to use—and it’s really nice when I’m feeling tired and I don’t want to pedal all the way to or from work, from Westville to Long Wharf, or between Westville and downtown. Just make sure you learn all the rules of the road and stay off the sidewalks, and we’d love to have you join the cycling community! Viva la “Velo-rucion”!! :D
posted by: David Streever on September 20, 2008 6:28pm
I’m not joking, that was the only time all day! There were 3-4 parking spots at all times beyond when you came down… you should have brought a bike :).
My favorite moment: when the lady tried to double-park with no less than 5 parking spots available at any time. Each time, an officer his horn. Finally, he got out, walked up, and said, “Could you PLEASE park in the spots???? There are 5 spots right here!”
I love it! I wish the police did that all day when they saw stupid driving.