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WSJ Looks at Park Building

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, July 06, 2007, at 02:19PM
Pershing Square Eric Richardson [Flickr]

At the end of last week the Wall Street Journal ran an interesting look at park construction taking place across the country. The story doesn't mention Pershing Square's potential redesign, but the discussion that process will entail fits perfectly.

Cities across the country are investing in parks to make themselves more attractive, and as they do so they're getting into heated discussions on what a park should contain.

But even grass and trees can be complicated. Citizens and planners across the country are getting tied up in a larger debate about what a park should be -- one that often pits people who believe in peace and quiet and the soulful contemplation of nature against those who prefer zip lines, Frisbee golf and hang-gliding.

In the Twin Cities, some residents don't agree with the decision to build a public sports field with artificial turf. Park builders in Dallas are trying to find room in one new project for a backgammon area. And an effort to rehabilitate Manhattan's Washington Square Park has been met by three lawsuits so far -- including an attempt by preservationists to keep the city from moving the central fountain about 15 feet to the east. "You'd think we were proposing to build a nuclear waste dump," says Adrian Benepe, the city's commissioner of parks and recreation.

It's a good read, and definitely worth taking a few minutes on.

I've long been of the opinion that all I want in a park is some shade and space to throw a frisbee around. Don't overprogram. Go simple and traditional and let people imagine their own uses for the space.

Thanks to David Kennedy for pointing the story out to me.


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