Archive for September, 2013

entrance for web

Charleston has a new park on Dixie Street in the city’s East End, appropriately named East End Community Park.  As the name implies, it’s intended as a public space for people who live nearby.  It’s not a complete park yet; there are major features to be added in years to come.  Right now, though, the neighborhood has a really nice mini-plaza in which to hang out, enjoy that morning cup of coffee, and maybe read a good book.

The plaza’s design is unique for West Virginia, where wood benches and brick pavers tend to dominate such spaces.  Here, the benches are concrete and emit a soft blue LED light at night.  Large pavers complement scored concrete and run off in angles other than ninety degrees.  Instead of the typical laminated wood park structure, a shelter at the far end of the plaza is fabricated from steel and reaches into the sky in wing-like shapes.  Lush landscaping softens everything and gives the space a nice feel.

Among things to be finished this fall is a nice greenspace beyond the shelter and the construction of a walking path around the park.  Future plans call for a playground, a sprayground (an interactive water feature) and possibly a skate park.

So let’s give the designers, the city leaders, and the neighborhood their due praise for turning what was once referred to as “Hobo Jungle” into a really nice and inviting space, and the potential to become one of the gems of the city.

But we also have an opportunity for study.  We can watch a park grow and develop.

Although the park is not officially open, anybody can access the space right now.  I’ve been there three times already: once on a Friday morning (warm and sunny), a Saturday morning (warm and sunny), and a Saturday afternoon (4:30, warm and sunny).  So far I’ve not seen enough activity to establish any kind of patterns.  I’m going to make it a point to stop by at different times of day and during different weather conditions.  I suspect two things:

The park will be used more when it’s not quite as hot.  I also think it will be used more when the greenspace and walking trail are finished, and even more when the other features are added.  The more diversity of uses, the more it will attract people.

Let’s watch and learn.  Feel free to post your observations as well.

bench for web   shelter for webplaza for web