Eyes on the Street: Avalon and Gage Pocket Park is Now Open
Over the past year, I watched the Neighborhood Land Trust and Department of Parks and Recreation slowly transform a dumpy traffic island at Avalon and Gage into something families in the community could actually use and be proud of.
The transformation couldn’t come soon enough.
The island sits at a very busy intersection in a neighborhood whose environment is intensely impacted by the factories found on the east side of Avalon, along Gage, and the heavy and fast-moving traffic (especially truck traffic) the corridor sees.
The island, in its earlier iteration as a tiny and uninspiring oasis from the chaos, had never realized its full potential.
For years, the lack of shade and run-down feel of the space meant you were unlikely to see anybody using the furniture unless they were waiting for the bus or the shadows of the few remaining trees fell in the right place for a few minutes.
While there was no one in the play area when I stopped by last week — it was a school day, after all — it was clear the renovation represented a vast and welcome improvement to the space.
Given how exposed the previous incarnation had felt, I was surprised by how quiet, safe, and spacious it feels in its newly transformed state.
The equipment is bright and fun, encourages kids to climb, run, and jump, and promises soft landings on rubberized surfaces should they fall. There is ample space for parents to sit around the equipment so they can keep an eye on their kids. And there is also some fitness equipment nearby, in case parents want to get their own heart rates up while watching their kids. The tall fencing enclosing the park space ensures kids won’t be able to run out into traffic.
The pavilion and small grassy hill behind it (just out of frame at left, below) offer nice places for picnicking. And the trees, while a little anemic right now, will eventually grow to shade some of the space and further separate it from the noise of the street.
There is even some furniture outside the enclosure for those waiting for the bus.
This transformation didn’t come easy — it was apparently ten years in the making.
Which is unfortunate because it would be amazing to see these sort of projects streamlined (and more easily funded) so they could take root on other corners in need of makeovers. Like the one just down the street at Western that currently serves as both a dumping ground and, oddly, a parking lot on occasion.
Or this one, at 40th and Broadway Pl.