North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

'Pocket parks' could be coming to Arlington

 

Christopher Andersson

Sophia Alba moves one of the giant checker pieces at Arlington's "pop up park" on Aug. 27 when it was at the city's Airport Appreciation Day.

The city of Arlington hopes to create small "pocket parks" and has debuted their portable "pop up park" to gather feedback from citizens for future small parks in the town.

Pocket parks are typically very small and built on a single vacant lot or other odd small pieces of land, and typically contain plants and greenery with some seats, tables, coverings or other aesthetic or art pieces.

"We're trying to expand people's idea of parks. Instead of just thinking about big parks with playgrounds and soccer fields, these are also parks that are available to the public," said Sarah Lopez, recreation manager for the city of Arlington.

The small parks were one of the strategies proposed as part of Arlington's submission in the national America's Best Communities competition.

Arlington and Darrington submitted a proposal together and are currently one of eight finalists in the contest.

The two communities were awarded $100,000 to implement their plans as one of the eight finalists, and they could win up to $3 million if they win the competition.

With those funds the America's Best Communities team in Arlington and Darrington purchased supplies, including seating, tables, covering, artificial turf and games for kids, for a "pop up park" that could move around the city.

"We'll be going to different businesses in Arlington and showing the employees the benefits of having small parks in public places," said Lopez.

The pop up park debuted on Aug. 27 during Arlington's Airport Appreciation Day, but Lopez said it will be making many more stops in the next few months.

"We were really trying to draw attention to how pocket parks would work and how they would fit into the economic development of downtown," she said.

Local officials hope to gather input from the public about what they want to see in small parks if they are added to Arlington.

"We're trying to see what would fit best in our pocket parks and what areas could use the parks," said Lopez.

Internet access is another addition the city hopes to add to the pocket parks.

"We're going to have WiFi in our first pocket park as that's another one of our goals from America's Best Communities," said Lopez.

The public response to the idea has been really positive, said Steve Maisch, a member of the park commission for Arlington.

"I think it's a great outreach and the community so far just loves it, at least what's been demonstrated so far," he said.

Lopez hopes that pocket parks will improve the livability and workability of the business areas of the city, as well as the downtown.

"It's been proven that having parks in business areas helps bring in businesses to the area and employees benefit from having open spaces," she said.

There will also be the tourism improvements for those visiting the town.

"Our visitors will have these little spaces to stop and rest or they can get online on the WiFi to search for other places to go in our town," she said.

The city's pop up park is scheduled to make some upcoming stops at Arlington schools and manufacturers and Lopez hopes to schedule more stops for the upcoming months as well to continue collecting public feedback.

 

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