OGDEN -- A temporary oasis of urban green space was installed in two parking spaces on 25th Street for Parking Day, an annual event that turns parking spaces across the country into miniature public parks.
Shalae Larsen, principal landscape architect with Io Landscape Architecture, explained the urban green space movement.
"Parking Day is a national movement; it's basically talking about the need for more public green space in cities. So, what people do is, they basically appropriate a parking space for a couple of hours or a day or whatever they can get away with, and they put in a park."
Larsen's miniature park, complete with a small pond full of goldfish, was constructed Friday by her firm and Carbon Architects. The parklet, as such installations are called in San Francisco, consisted of two water features, a pebble beach, a foot bridge, a bench and wall made of recycled tires and wood, grass, and various plants in tire planters.
Components of the park were either donated to the project or bought by Carbon Architects and Io Landscape Architecture. Tri City Nursery gave the firms a discount on the plant material, tires were donated by Jack's Tire and Oil, and Stewart Roofing contributed as well.
"It's been a huge hit," Larsen said. "We've had lots of people coming and going all day and hanging out. At lunch people came and ate their lunch here. It really is amazing, because we just took up two parking spaces. It's just two parking spaces, and it's crazy how many people we can fit in here in this tiny little space. A little goes a long way in terms of urban green space."
Larsen said she and her firm have wanted to do a Parking Day installation ever since they heard about the event a couple of years ago and finally decided to give it a shot this year. However, when she contacted Ogden city to find out about getting a permit for the installation, city officials weren't sure how to handle the situation at first.
"We called the city to see if we needed a permit, and we kept getting bumped around from one department to the next, because really no one has ever done anything like this, and they weren't really sure what to do with us. But at the end of the day they were really great to work with."
Larsen said her installation was intended to be removed Friday night, but it was so popular that representatives from the Historic 25th Street Association asked her to keep it up for Saturday's Harvest Moon Festival. After removal, the park's components will be donated to Oasis Community Garden to create a children's garden.
"We have a whole group of volunteers coming ... and they're going to paint all the tires cute candy colors and then put topsoil in it and get all the irrigation and everything hooked up so that next summer we can have some areas for children to grow their own little vegetables," Larsen said.
Daniel Schmeling, president of Carbon Architects in Ogden, said he hopes installations like this one can become a permanent part of Ogden's landscape. Schmeling stressed the importance of urban green space to Ogden's community.
Green space is "disappearing faster and faster. Anything we can do to either save it or increase it in any spot, no matter how big or small, is of huge, huge importance for the community and for everyone who's involved in it," Schmeling said. "Parking is always a challenge, but, even though this is a temporary setup, it's conceivable that we grab a couple of parking spaces and make this a permanent park. People could come out here and just hang out, have someplace for somebody to eat, a little picnic area."
When asked why she thinks the creation of urban green space should be on Ogden's agenda, Larsen stated her case.
"For a number of reasons, one of which is environmental. The more trees and plants and vegetation we have, that actually cleans the air and the water and provides urban wildlife habitat. From a psychological standpoint, they have done all these studies that show that people really benefit from contact with nature, and even a little pocket of green space helps you reduce your blood pressure and gives you a little calmness in the city.
"In Ogden obviously, nature abounds on the urban periphery, so I think our interests in terms of Ogden is looking at the overall network and looking at how we can better interconnect the great things, the great open space and trail system that we have with the urban trail system."
For more information on Parking Day, visit parkingday.org.