Project rendering / Courtesy
Last September, a group of University of Arkansas students created a mini park in a single parking space in front of the UARK Bowl in honor of Park(ing) Day, a nationwide event which encourages that very thing.
Now, the group is working with the nearby building owners and city officials to make that little park a year-long attraction.
The group has been approved for a one-year permit to turn that space into a “parklet,” a miniature park complete with seating, landscaping, bike racks, and other amenities.
Randy Werner, whose company Old Buildings LLC owns the nearby UARK Bowl building, helped to spearhead the project. He worked with Peter Nierengarten, the city’s director of sustainability and parking, on permitting the project. Overall, Werner said, city officials were very supportive of the idea.
“I think the city wants these kind of projects,” said Werner. “There was a lot of encouragement from Peter Nierengarten, and from the folks in the parking department. Those groups were really engaged. They wanted it to happen.”
The project is one of a handful of examples of tactical urbanism that have recently sprung up in Fayetteville. Other citizen-led temporary infrastructure improvements approved this year include the painted intersection at the corner of Center Street and Church Avenue, and an upcoming project at Mill Avenue and Rock Street.
Werner said Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty also encouraged him on the project, and sent over design ideas and documents for inspiration.
Addison Warren, a landscape architecture student with the ASLA Student Chapter at the University of Arkansas, was the primary design contact for the project, Werner said. Warren also worked on the Park(ing) Day project last September.
The parket was designed as a collaboration by the students in the ASLA.
The design was inspired in part by similar projects that have been built in other cities. San Francisco has even developed a guide to encourage others to develop their own parklets.
Werner said business owners in the area were generally excited about the parklet.
Lycia Shrum, who owns Blackboard Grocery nearby, was thrilled with the idea.
“I think it’s a great thing,” she said. “It’s a great way to encourage some of the urban feel that Fayetteville is going for, and has to some extent, without being too permanent and freaking everyone out.”
Shrum said a similar parklet that was installed in her hometown near a store she managed was a huge success.
“We did a year-long pilot program with the city of Austin, and it’s still there today three or four years later,” she said. “People love it.”
Once the new project is complete, the parklet will include a seating area and a standing bar top for socializing, landscaping, protection from the street through the buffers created by the planters, bike racks, lighting, and a mural painted by a local artist to add visual appeal to the project.
Werner said the materials for construction of the parklet have been ordered, and he hopes to have it installed in the next 2-4 weeks.