I attended tonight’s panel discussion, sponsored by Leadership R.I., on the Providence waterfront – park vs. ballpark – and was startled to hear myself quoted in the first question from the moderator. He cited the “blog by David Brussat, who I see is in the audience,” and wondered how stadium opponents would respond to my assertion that:
[T]he river is already festooned with parks, another new park is now being built right across the river as part of the 195 corridor – and the proposed park that would be lost suffers from extraordinarily poor design, both from the aesthetic and the practical standpoints.
I refer to the image at the end of this post, which depicts some sort of jiggety-jaggety bandstand or whatever that contraption is that architects Epstein Joslin paraded before the I-195 Relocation District Commission’s public space subcommittee. The design was criticized by members of the subcommittee, and it may not still be part of the park plan, which is running way behind. But this is what you risk when arguing for a public park these days.
The poor practical design has to do with the failure to bring the river walk under the west end of the pedestrian bridge. That’s not the only flaw but others can be read in my post “Hard to build an unnatural park,” written well before the stadium issue emerged.
The panel did not address the issue raised by my quote. Much to my relief, Sharon Steele, the against team leader who is also a very sharp rhetorician, ignored it, allowing it to twist slowly in the wind. A little while later, Cyd McKenna pointed out that the linear park along our reopened rivers would run between the river bank and the stadium. And the stadium would come with a new park just to its north. (See top image.)
But a waterfront that boasts Roger Williams Memorial Park, State House Park, Memorial Park and nearby India Point Park – not to mention the park being built right across the Providence River from the park/ballpark site – is not a waterfront in need of more parks. Parks we have aplenty – festooned, as I wrote in “Water taxis for the stadium?” – but we have no sites for public or private outdoor meetings, rallies, concerts or other bread-and-circuses entertainment.
To swap out one public park for one such useful facility – useful beyond the provision of sport – seems like a good deal to me. That is, if it can be done without public subsidies heaped on the back of the Rhode Island taxpayer.