National Park(ing) Day Installation Highlights Olentangy River Plan
On Friday, September 21, Park(ing) Day took over urban spaces across the country and around the world. Started in San Fransisco, the global event is designed to implement “miniparks” in parking lots and around metered parking, to call attention to a need for more open public spaces.
In years past, Columbus has followed the established set of guidelines, turning sidewalks and parking meters into temporary public spaces. But given the many parks already around the city, it seemed time for a new way of highlighting potential public spaces and uses.
This year, the Olentangy River Vision Plan project, by the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) and landscape architecture practice Implement Studios, celebrated Park(ing) with a demonstration highlighting one of many uses for the Olentangy River watershed.
Other plans have looked at transportation via the river or recreational opportunities, however Olentangy River Vision Plan organizers say this plan looks at the river through an ecological lens, and the different opportunities that could come out of this approach.
“We’re all designers — landscape architects and landscape designers — and we’re just hoping to provide a place where everyone can have a say in the future for the Olentangy River,” says Jesse Hartman, an organizer through Implement Studios.
“We think it has a lot of potential to be…[an attractor] for the region and the area,” he says. “Not only a place where you can go kayak and ride your bike but perhaps that it could start to provide more opportunities, whether it’s development or a more ecologically rich watershed in [the] central Ohio area.”
The Olentangy River watershed drains a large portion of central Ohio, and with a projected increase of 1 million people, any unhealthy habits occurring in the watershed can have a large effect on the health of the Olentangy, and eventually the larger rivers it feeds into.
Organizers put together a prototype of a temporary rain garden to demonstrate one of the river’s many ecologically positive uses.
“We thought, why not take this opportunity to remind people that all the water that falls on our streets and sidewalks ends up in the river?” says Hartman.
The Olentangy River Vision Plan will continue to spread the word and get feedback from the community through different events, demonstrations, and via social media. Planned events for the fall include a demonstration at the Clintonville Farmer’s Market, among others.
“We’re just wanting to gather as many voices as possible and improve the Olentangy for all of us currently and also future generations,” says Hartman.