Park(ing) Day is coming around again and this time there’s some official support. Wellington Sculpture Trust is calling for expressions of interest to join them on the day. The closing date is August 12th (sorry for the late posting on this), so get those idea machines cooking. There are a total of 20 locations that will be set aside specifically for this, as far north as the Railway Station and dotting down to Swan Lane on Cuba Street. My previous location at Lower Cuba picks up 6 spaces and may actually look a bit like a proper shared space when it’s all set up.
There is a fair bit of information to read through (PDF) before submitting a concept. Some costs can be recovered, but there are rules to follow and an obligation to have the park in place from 8am until 8pm regardless of weather.
Why would you want to do this? Besides being a fun day out, it’s a great way to get people thinking about public spaces and how we interact with the street. On-street parking is a sacred cow (Councillor Morrison, you aren’t helping) and we need to have the discussion about how parking affects urban form and the people on the streets, which is sort of what Councillor Paul Eagle is saying, even if what he means is slightly different. Streets are all about interactions and we need to move beyond our zero-sum-game mentality. Creative use of one car park can bring much more value than just a few carloads of people.
Knowing that Park(ing) Day has its roots in the fringes of legality, it feels weird to see it wrapped in officialdom and supported by Wellington City Council. Having parks vetted and selected seems a bit sanitised. However, we need to get people to take interest in reshaping Wellington for the future. 20 well-designed parks in high pedestrian areas will be much more effective than a single subversive park, regardless of political washing.
Of course, nothing is stopping anyone from taking some other space in a less official fashion. Just be safe about it.