The Catherine St. Family Park was begun by Christine Earhart, a student at the University at Albany’s Planning Department. This land is adjacent to the Capital District Permaculture Guild Lot and is located at 94-100 Catherine Street. Christine organized a series of charettes with neighborhood residents to come with a design for the lot, which she then brought back to two additional meeting for further input.
Purpose: The Catherine Street area of the South End neighborhood of Albany is a community in transition, with some long-time residents and home owners and many new tenants of the Albany Housing Authority’s new Capital South rental housing. There are few outdoor amenities in this area, especially for families with young children. The neighborhood has many young children who need access to a safe place to play that is not in the street or across a major arterial in the city. When work started on the then-derelict vacant lots that were the first phase of this project, neighbors (especially children) immediately showed up and pitched in. They told us they wanted to revive the community spirit that once prevailed here, and that they have a strong desire for a place they can call their own.
Goal: The goal of the park is to provide a safe space for families and young children to get together in their neighborhood. In the planning process, community involvement and outreach was a priority and all feedback was considered. Consensus was reached and a design scheme was chosen by residents. One of our more ambitious projects, the design calls for a children’s playground with a picnic area and a sprinkler park.The plan also includes the upgrading of a pedestrian walkway and staircase that connects the South End with Morton Ave., a new bus line and Lincoln Park.
Recycled Water Sprinkler Area:
In the warm summers, children and families need a place to gather and play that is safe and provides a place to cool off. With the risk of drowning in the smallest amount of standing water, a sprinkler system was chosen. The system would pump in fresh water, but have a recycling and filtration function that would cut down on water intake and make it more sustainable. The sides of the sprinkler area would be slightly sloped to allow for proper drainage and reduce potential hazards of standing water.
Playground Equipment for Young Children:
The neighborhood is teeming with young children who need a place to play that is safe, close to home, and out of street right of ways. The small park would provide small climbing structures, slides, swings, and a merry go round for children to play on. Resurfacing would be done to ensure a soft ground made of pine chips or recycled rubber pellets.
Grill and Picnic Area:
Between the playground and sprinkler area is a place where families can come together to play and have family gatherings. With the installation of grills, families could arrange block parties and other events in the park. With trash receptacles available the park could be kept clean and free of litter.
Timeline: In the summer of 2011, multiple community meetings were held and outreach was conducted to gain community input and suggestions for what is desirable in the space. During the second meeting, four design schemes were presented and two proved to be the favorite. The most desirable characteristics from each were combined into one design which has met the approval of the community. The landowner was contacted in September of 2011 and is willing to donate the land to Grand Street Community Arts. Grand Street Community Arts is currently seeking partnerships and funding sources to clean up the site and build the park.