Sept. 24, 2008

National Park(ing) Day made C-town a little greener

On Sept. 19, students from Cornell's chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects transformed a metered parking space on College Avenue into a green oasis for the day. Trees, flowers, lawn and benches helped create a mini park in the dense urban fabric of Collegetown.

The mini park was created in observance of National Park(ing) Day, when metered public parking spots nationwide became temporary public parks. The day's goals are to celebrate parks and promote the value and need for more open space in America's cities.

In Ithaca, the student volunteers installed materials on loan from Cayuga Landscape and spent the day explaining the project and observing reactions. With the help of passersby, they "rented" the park space by feeding the parking meter.

"We want to challenge people to consider what else you could do in a space usually reserved for private vehicle storage," said Leigh McGonagle, a junior in Cornell's Department of Landscape Architecture. "As landscape architects, we are trained to envision improvements to the environment through plans, drawings and models. Our installation is a chance for everyone to experience the transforming power that even a small, temporary landscape has in our community and everyday life. We hope to show how even a few people can make a difference in just one day."

"Ithaca, and particularly Cornell, has benefited from a tradition that values landscape and investment in open space," said David Cutter, a landscape architect for Cornell. "The 2008 Cornell Master Plan for the Ithaca campus and the Collegetown Urban Plan both recognize the essential role of landscape in shaping our perceptions and experience of community, and advocate for renewed investment in our open space and public places. Park(ing) Day is a fun opportunity to remind us of something we often take for granted -- the beauty, utility and revitalizing influence of well designed open space."