Corvallis Urban Space Rethink: PARK(ing) Day is Sept. 20

On September 20 Corvallis will be participating in PARK(ing) Day, an international event where parking spaces are transformed into miniature parks, or “parklets.” The event is hosted by the Transportation Action Team of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition.

The first PARK(ing) Day was held in San Francisco in 2005 by John Bela, Blaine Merker and Matthew Passmore, aka Rebar. They fed a parking meter for a day, and filled the space with grass, a potted tree and a bench. PARK(ing) Day is now practiced in cities around the world, including Singapore and Madrid.

PARK(ing) Day was brought to Corvallis by Jay Thatcher, who found out about the event online. 2nd St., as a major thoroughfare for foot traffic, seemed like a natural fit for the event, so he brought the idea before the Transportation Action Team and several downtown businesses. The project was given the go-ahead, and the first pop-up parklet opened September 21 of last year.

This Year’s Corvallis Park(ing) Event

This year the number of parklets has increased to six, each offering their own attractions. The Benton Soil and Water Conservation District and the future occupants of the Confluence Building will be hosting parklets focused around environmental concerns on Southwest 5th St. and Southwest 2nd St., respectively. The Northside Co-op will be providing two spaces in its parking lot for a picnic area, to kick off Local Eats Week. OSU will feature a space for lawn games like croquet on Benton Place near Snell Hall, and on Southwest Madison Avenue there will be trivia and bean bag tossing. The Corvallis Bike Collective on 707 NW 11th St. will bring its Ask-a-Wrench services to the street for a day.

According to Thatcher, PARK(ing) Day “is a project in rethinking urban space in a fun way. If we didn’t devote space to storing automobiles we could have friendlier public spaces.”

By Brandon Urey