COMMUNITY GROUPS TRANSFORM VACANT SPACE INTO TEMPORARY PARK
For decades, the northeast corner of Magnolia Avenue and Henderson Street in Fort Worth has remained vacant, but recent community efforts have given the space new life — at least for now.
In May, Near Southside Inc. and Leadership Fort Worth opened the transformed 4,500-square-foot tract as the city’s first micro-park.
From galvanized trash can planters to brightly colored PVC pipes kids can make music on, planners found a collection of ordinary materials to reinvigorate the dormant corner.
Local artists livened the space by repurposing old car hoods as their canvases. The park also became the new home for the ArtSouth Exhibition Space, a shipping container serving as a temporary public art gallery.
Unlike other parks, all the elements at Magnolia Micro-Park are meant to be portable.
“If you can reshape a certain area — that’s small or large — that could create even one moment or a sense of enjoyment. … I think that somebody’s done their job.”
Property owner Mike Dolabi will eventually develop the land, but offered the space up for public use in the meantime.
“As soon as he starts construction, our park materials are all designed to be a kit of parts where we can pick them up and use them at an alternative park site,” said Megan Henderson, director of events and communications for Near Southside Inc.
Even the trees, placed in raised planter boxes with refillable water bags, can be carted off to a new destination.
Having a park made of movable features is something Christopher Cobb, senior account manager for Site Planning Site Development, hasn’t run across in his work.
SMALL SPACES, HUGE IMPACTS
Cobb volunteered his time with others from SPSD to coordinate vendors and installation schedules as well as provide labor to put the park together.
Even if it’s only temporary, he said redeveloping underutilized areas can leave an impression.
“If you can reshape a certain area — that’s small or large — that could create even one moment or a sense of enjoyment. … I think that somebody’s done their job,” Cobb said.
Demonstrating how smaller parcels of land can still make an impact as public park spaces is one message Near Southside Inc. hopes to convey with the Magnolia Micro-Park.
“We feel like there’s huge potential in the smaller urban parks in our neighborhood,” Henderson said.
David Creek, assistant director for Fort Worth Park and Recreation Department, said the city recognizes the need for smaller parks in urban areas.
URBAN PARK CLASSIFICATION
Last year, the city created an urban park classification allowing for properties one acre or less as part of its 2015 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan.
Creek said there are already properties that fit that urban park classification. The city is also working to purchase more land for future development.
While he applauds Magnolia Micro-Park’s unique approach, he said the city wouldn’t be able to replicate those efforts exactly.
“It’s a beautiful way for our neighborhood to have a place where you don’t have to buy anything to be there, but you certainly have the opportunity to connect with your neighbors.”
First, the city can’t use public funds to invest on private property. The park’s temporary aspect wouldn’t be viable for the city either.
“We make an improvement to a property, it’s a long-term improvement that’s going to stay until it gets updated,” Creek said. “We really wouldn’t be in the position to take amenities and move them from one site to another.”
Henderson said the most valuable public assets for the Near Southside neighborhood are areas where the community can interact such as the streets, sidewalks, and benches. Magnolia Micro-Park represents one more addition to that list.
“It’s a beautiful way for our neighborhood to have a place where you don’t have to buy anything to be there, but you certainly have the opportunity to connect with your neighbors,” Henderson said.
IF YOU GO
Where: intersection of Magnolia Avenue and Henderson Street in Fort Worth
Upcoming art exhibition: Sound and installation artist James Talambas will be the next artist resident in Near Southside Inc.’s ArtSouth program, which helps aspiring artists gain public art experience. As part of his exhibition debuting Thursday at Magnolia Micro-Park, Talambas will turn the space into a “moldable and sensory” environment by taking live sounds from the park and integrating them into a musical arrangement. Most of his equipment will be energized by solar and kinetic power.
More Info: fortworthsouth.org