We've all seen what a community garden can do for a neighborhood. We've all seen what a vacant parking lot can do for a neighborhood. So what happens when a community gets together and finds that there are no resources at hand to create an idyllic community park where a corner parking lot is located? The community makes due.
This time, the community I am referring to is the Oxford Square Block Club. Two weeks ago volunteers took this vacant parking lot and built a sandbox for neighborhood kids to play in, then added garden boxes and park benches. Along with curbside landscaping, a garbage can, a rain barrel and an attractive sign, this eyesore has become a place where the residents can bring their families to enjoy bike riding (for kids), rollerskating, jump roping, etc. It may not be the most beautiful park around, but it's inspirational nonetheless... and sure beats what was there.
When I pulled up this morning, Barbara (photo) and her daughter Alysha were arriving to play in the sandbox. There were toy buckets and shovels already in the sand, which meant that they didn't have to bring anything other than themselves. Barbara told me that they had walked from their house on the opposite side of the street and she was really happy to have this sort of amenity on the block.
It just goes to show that there are light lifts that can go a long way towards improving the quality of life in our own city. Normally an unused parking lot would be considered blight - I'm not sure who owns this lot... maybe The City? Either way, these types of initiatives can often lead to bigger successes. I hope that this lot continues to present opportunities for the families that are using it. My initial thought was that someday the asphalt could be ripped out and filled with sod and grass. But if this is where kids learn how to ride bikes, and rollerskating is the recreation of choice, then it will (hopefully) be up to the community to decide what is best for this little corner.