Advocates Want to Replace Parking Spots With Parks

By Mathew Katz on September 10, 2011 10:23am 

Stanley Phillips and Cora Sue Kaufman enjoy the Thumbelina Park and Community Garden, a tiny 'micropark' at 25th Street and Eighth Avenue.
Stanley Phillips and Cora Sue Kaufman enjoy the Thumbelina Park and Community Garden, a tiny 'micropark' at 25th Street and Eighth Avenue.
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Parks Chelsea

CHELSEA — Chelsea residents wanting to claim new park space in the neighborhood may have found their next target: parking spots.

A group of park advocates will swoop down on hundreds of parking spots on Friday, Sept. 16 to turn them into green 'microparks.' Participants can pay the spot's meter, and then temporarily use them as they would a park — setting up small gardens, and even having picnics.

"It's to go and show the city that we can creare this community space," said Arnold Bob, also known as Ranger Bob, the self-declared Parks Commissioner at Park Chelsea.

The parks in Chelsea will be set up in conjunction with tiny greenspaces around the world as part of PARK(ing) Day.

Organizers said the event is meant to show that microparks can be viable on a long-term basis, and they would like to see one parking spot per block permanently become a micropark — that would be about 100 parking spots in total and about 10,000 sq ft of uniformly distributed new park space in Chelsea.

Park Chelsea has already set up a small prototype, the six-foot by six-foot Thumbelina Park and Community Garden, on the median between the protected bike lane and the street at Eighth Avenue and 25th Street.

Some in Chelsea have pushed for the city to set up a park in an empty lot at 136 W. 20th Street, the future site of an affordable housing development.

Bob and other organizers of Friday's event said smaller, more evently-distributed parks would create community space for every block.

"People who normally can't get to a park or a green space suddenly have a green space to go to," said Bob. "Seniors will be able to sit down here and schmooze."

The city has given special permission to those that want to turn parking spots into park spots for the duration of PARK(ing) Day.

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