There’s a new city park in downtown Apalachicola’s future. The site, comprising three lots on Commerce Street between Avenues E and F, was generously donated to the city by Allen Jones with the stipulation that Main Street design and develop it.
The site is located between a building owned by Constance Peck that houses Enjoy Apalachicola and the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, and the old Ford automobile dealership.
Writer, photographer, and urban reformer Jacob Riis is credited as the inventor of the “pocket park” concept in 1897, when he served on a New York City parks committee. The idea is to turn a small plot of land situated between other real estate uses into a landscaped space that provides a respite from urban life. In post-World War II Europe, the concept was used to transform bombed-out building sites into attractive public spaces.
In America, pocket parks gained momentum in the 1960s when New York City Parks Commissioner Thomas Hoving began championing their potential to “create wider ripples of reform.” Hoving saw that small parks could be powerful, not only in their ability to provide an oasis from the city landscape, but as a catalyst for community engagement in the design, planning and creation of the space.
We believe this new park will be an asset to downtown. Parks can serve as powerful revitalization tools. They’ve been shown to encourage investment, enhance property values, and attract homebuyers and businesses. We believe this park will draw downtown visitors, providing a place to rest, a place for events, and an attractive gathering place on the edge of the up-and-coming Bowery District.
We’re asking for our community to come together around the idea of this new park. How do you envision it? What style or elements would you like to see? What types of events should it be designed to accommodate? Call, email, or stop by my office with your feedback.
Anyone interested in this project is invited to participate in a public forum on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. at the Community Center on Bay Avenue. We’ll review the input we’ve received up to that point and open the floor to hear your suggestions. This new park will be a point of pride for our city. Let’s make our communal design effort a point of pride as well.
Augusta West is executive director of Apalachicola Main Street, a non-profit organization dedicated to downtown economic development and historic preservation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 274-1321. Main Street’s mailing address is 1 Avenue E, Apalachicola, FL 32320