Let me get the big caveats out of the way:
This project has not been approved by the city. There is no funding in place. There are many steps from where we are to living out our Norfolk dreams in this lovely vision of a park.
None of that dims my excitement for the potential of this project, which has been imagined for the city-owned lot at the corner of Wilson and Olney in the NEON. Check out it. Design by Thom White and his team at WPA.
All images courtesy of WPA and the Downtown Norfolk Council.
We are way too early in this to go into meaningful details, so in broad strokes: places to swing, climb and play; a wall for public art; a basketball hoop; a stage for concerts and performances (Hurrah is on the same block); a rain garden; and benches that make for good sitting or good skating.
The Maker Space has been working on a design for a playable swing:
Here is the space currently:
This design came about the right way: through a process that earnestly engaged neighborhood stakeholders, residents, and artistic supporters.
At a public meeting WPA asked the community what it wanted. The community responded. And WPA weaved it all together into this. Here are some slides from their engagement process:
What about The Plot? The Plot is on land that is privately owned. Those property owners reserve the right to sell or develop the land; The Plot is not designed to be a long term park, so, thinking long term, this space is the best available downtown property to make playable.
Because play we must! Why else are we alive if not to be happy, and to foster happiness?
What happens next? The City has to designate that space for recreation. I would imagine the Downtown Norfolk Council board would vote to officially support this vision. Then there would need to be a fair amount of private fundraising.
We will keep you posted. For now, in my mind I’ll be there in the NEON, watching the sunset over the Chrysler from a swing, surrounded by friends and joy and this amazing cherry of a park.