This community asks for a lot… and gets one.

We’ve all seen what a community garden can do for a neighborhood. We’ve all seen what a vacant parking lot can do for a neighborhood. So what happens when a community gets together and finds that there are no resources at hand to create an idyllic community park where a corner parking lot is located? The community makes due.

This time, the community I am referring to is the Oxford Square Block Club. Two weeks ago volunteers took this vacant parking lot and built a sandbox for neighborhood kids to play in, then added garden boxes and park benches. Along with curbside landscaping, a garbage can, a rain barrel and an attractive sign, this eyesore has become a place where the residents can bring their families to enjoy bike riding (for kids), rollerskating, jump roping, etc. It may not be the most beautiful park around, but it’s inspirational nonetheless… and sure beats what was there.
When I pulled up this morning, Barbara (photo) and her daughter Alysha were arriving to play in the sandbox. There were toy buckets and shovels already in the sand, which meant that they didn’t have to bring anything other than themselves. Barbara told me that they had walked from their house on the opposite side of the street and she was really happy to have this sort of amenity on the block. 
It just goes to show that there are light lifts that can go a long way towards improving the quality of life in our own city. Normally an unused parking lot would be considered blight – I’m not sure who owns this lot… maybe The City? Either way, these types of initiatives can often lead to bigger successes. I hope that this lot continues to present opportunities for the families that are using it. My initial thought was that someday the asphalt could be ripped out and filled with sod and grass. But if this is where kids learn how to ride bikes, and rollerskating is the recreation of choice, then it will (hopefully) be up to the community to decide what is best for this little corner.
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About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

3 comments
mcarza
mcarza

This park is one of the many projects that the Oxford Square Block Club has in mind to enhance our neighborhood. The neighborhood includes Lafayette from Linwood to Main; Oxford from Delevan to Ferry, Horton Place, Harvard Place and Balcom from Linwood to Harvard Place; Ferry from Linwood to Main.

The City was never involved so it did not need to get out of the way. The efforts and back breaking labor of some of the neighbors from Harvard Place, Oxford Ave and Horton Place built this community "park." We are thrilled that the kids can enjoy it and parents have some place close to take the kids to play.

Frankenberry
Frankenberry

The lot is currently owned by Kaleida. It was parking for Millard Fillmore Gates Hosptial. Over a year ago they agreed to sell the now vacant lot to Olmstead Parks for it to be used by the Oxford Square Block Club. We would have loved to chop up the cement and put grass in but we simply didn't have the funds for it.

ChronicWestSider
ChronicWestSider

Amazing what can happen when the city gets out of the way.

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