Yes Sidewalker, I’m Talking to You

As we wander the streets downtown, enjoy unique eats from the West Side Market in Ohio City, or take a bike ride  heading west on Lorain, it is exciting to see the City’s recent and resolute investment in Cleveland’s public spaces. Within  the last 8 months, construction on three incredible spaces has been completed and parks have reopened to the public.

These spaces not only look much better than their predecessors, but they make it feel better to visit, live, or work  nearby. Perk Park at Chester Commons, Market Square Park, and the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center, have been  transformed into vibrant, inviting, green escapes in densely populated neighborhoods that were sorely missing this kind  of space. The new spaces are bringing together our neighborhoods by providing a public gathering spot, unique public  art, and thoughtful design that showcases the personality of each community.

Christine Wing, a local artist, wrote a poem that was selected to be etched in pavers at the new Perk Park. The poem is a  fun and playful nod to the past, present, and future of the neighborhood. The seven-stanza poem begins by quirkily  calling out to passersby. I am the day’s delivery: squirrels in the inbox, a breeze on the phone. This is my space  available. This is my train coming on. I am not your could-have-been. I am your can-do. Yes, sidewalker, I am talking to you.

In Market Square Park, artists Mark Moskovitz and Augustina Droze created furnishings and a 50-foot mural that  represents what Ohio City has been and what it is striving to be: a neighborhood linked to the history of the West Side  Market and to the future of the farm-to-table movement. Seating and eating areas are reminiscent of fruit  crates seen  throughout the market and a pair of gateway features are inspired by the unique orchard ladders found in the region’s  many fruit tree farms. The mural, entitled BY HAND, features four large sets of hands painted across the wall.

The hands belong to the artisans in Ohio City and are creating things which can be found in the market district. An  overlay of woven aluminum will sit above the painted elements, evoking the feeling that the building itself is made “by hand.”

A few blocks down Lorain Avenue, the new Zone Rec Greenspace completed in August has delivered 22 acres of  greenspace to the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood. The park has new play fields, baseball diamonds, a splash park,  tennis courts,  a dog park and has been designed and built with sustainable features to manage all storm water runoff on site. There are ecological elements like rain gardens, wetlands, and permaculture that connect the natural environment  to the recreation areas. This was an important piece of the project since Zone Rec is located in Cleveland’s Eco Village.  The EcoVillage is a nationally recognized demonstration project that showcases best practices in green building, transit- oriented design, urban agriculture and societal inter-dependence.

It is the little details that make these public spaces unique. It is supporting a fully collaborative team made up  of artists,  designers, city officials, local nonprofits, and community residents to ensure the personality of the neighborhoods is  evident and that each element of these public spaces connects with the city’s history, culture, and vision for the future.   In the end, though, each public space reaches its full potential when it is embraced by its users.