Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thoughts on McIntire Park

Laura Ingles has an article in this week's C'Ville (here) about the extensive process of planning a revamped version of McIntire Park.

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Ingles makes the point that a design proposal from 2004 appears to have been all-but-forgotten in the latest round of discussions (said Maurice Cox: “Exactly why the city did not assume that [the 2004 plan] was a starting point escapes me ... but I think that sometimes the loss of institutional memory is the problem").

According to the article, the current discussions have largely focused on whether (or how much) to preserve the golf course, and Ingles says that at public meetings the same individuals repeatedly speak for and against golfing-at-McIntire.

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I have been thinking a lot about parks since our visit to Savannah. I absolutely loved Forsyth Park. It is a gathering place for all kinds of people to do all kinds of things -- including multiple athletic activities, not just softball, or just golf.

Charlottesville is missing a central park. Our closest analog is the Downtown Mall, but a problem with the Mall is (ironically) its lack of public space. In particular, there are hardly any benches or tables, other than those attached to the restaurants. This means that there is nowhere on the Mall that you can sit and have a picnic (except for the Pavilion, but only if it's not being used).

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Charlottesville has great neighborhood parks. The spray park at Forest Hills is one of the best things going for families with young kids. Washington Park is a gem for pick-up sports and sledding when it snows. Lee and Jackson Parks are the perfect spots to sit for 15 minutes and catch your breath (and under a general's gaze!).

But we do not have an all-purpose park where people can play, amble, sit, watch, listen.

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McIntire Park could become that place, but it will necessitate (1) doing away with the golf course (and moving the City's golf program entirely to Pen Park) and (2) building a pedestrian bridge across the Bypass. 

Until the golf course is replaced with more generally-welcoming fields and gardens, most people will continue not to use the park. The City's commitment to the First Tee program could be demonstrated by an infusion of funds for instruction at the Pen Park course.

And building a footbridge across the Bypass to the park seems like a no-brainer to me, but I am not hearing much discussion about that process.

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I assume that the delays in the planning process are tied to the uncertainty regarding the Meadowcreek Parkway. I will cross my fingers that if (when) the Parkway is finally approved and built, the park will be redesigned in a way that makes it more inviting to more people. That is some beautiful green space that should become a more central part of our community.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! We need vision turned into reality to create a public botanical garden at the East Side of McIntire Park.

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