A PARK IS A THING OF BEAUTY...
The Oklahoma Experience Of:
In many of our downtowns, there is that empty lot. The city keeps up with the weeds, but the lot is as a scar left from the building that used to inhabit the spot
In Wilburton, Oklahoma we turned our scar it into a park. Our lot stood empty for 40 years, until the children of the original owners deeded it to the city with the written purpose that it be used for a pocket park built by Wilburton Main Street, Inc. With the help of hundreds of donors and many, many volunteer hours later, Goldberg and Joseph Heritage Park became a reality. Though only 40’ wide and 100’ deep, the park holds several large and small flower beds, a wisteria arbor for shade, a stage for community events, several benches, and 2 picnic tables. The Park is dedicated to the history and heritage of Wilburton and the people who settled here and built our city. Fronted by a low brick wall with an arched entry containing a large lighted clock, the curved sidewalk invites visitors in to explore the many and varied flowers, shrubs and small trees planted inside.
The Goldberg and Joseph Heritage Park has been an outstanding addition to our Main Street and our town. People come to eat breakfast or lunch, or simply relax beside the water features. The park, coupled with our new streetscape, has immensely improved our downtown image and given our citizens a new pride of place. It has become a community-gathering place for movies, music events, festivals, auctions, even weddings. Goldberg and Joseph Heritage Park won the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful “Best of the Best” Environmental Excellence Award for 2008, and was chosen one of the top three nominees for the Best Public Improvement Project at the Oklahoma Main Street Center 2008 Annual Awards Banquet.
A pocket park in Tishomingo, Oklahoma
PARKS SUCCEED WHEN PEOPLE COME FIRST...
Pocket parks, also known as miniparks or vest-pocket parks, are urban open spaces on a very small scale. Usually only a few housing lots in size or smaller, pocket parks can be tucked into and scattered throughout the urban fabric where they serve the immediate local population.
These diminutive parks tend to act as scaled-down neighborhood parks, but still often try to meet a variety of needs. Functions can include small event space, play areas for children, spaces for relaxing or meeting friends, taking lunch breaks. etc. They can be a refuge from the bustle of surrounding urban life and offer opportunities for rest and relaxation. However, because space is restricted and user needs are both diverse and vary throughout the day, conflicts can sometimes arise between different groups. Thus, in organizing pocket parks, designers must often work out a delicate balancing act so that all groups can use the space in peaceful co-existence.
One of the unique and exciting characteristics of pocket parks is that they may be created out of vacant lots or otherwise forgotten spaces. Many pocket parks are the result of community groups, private entities or foundations reclaiming these spaces for the benefit of the local neighborhood. Unfortunately, they are sometimes easier to create than to maintain because without functional design, community support, use and maintenance, they may fall into disrepair.
In highly urbanized areas, particularly downtowns where land is very expensive, pocket parks are the only option for creating new public spaces without large-scale redevelopment. In inner-city areas, pocket parks are often part of urban regeneration plans and provide areas where wildlife such as birds can establish a foothold. Unlike larger parks, pocket parks are sometimes designed to be fenced and locked when not in use.
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