WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Pimp my park

File under: ,

Glover Park is finally being closed off for redevelopment. The fences are going up, and as I mentioned earlier, these will soon be covered with hoardings featuring works by local artists.


In a way, this redevelopment is necessary: the park looks dated, the dark trees help it feel gloomy, the paths never went in the right directions and some of the inhabitants have been intimidating enough to deter even hardened urbanites. On the other hand, there are a couple of arguments against it.

Social problems like addiction, mental illness and homelessness don't go away just because you put in some nice paving. The previous inhabitants have already moved on to Cuba St and Courtenay Pl, and if anything this has exacerbated tensions between them and the rest of the community.

Also, as a reader ("bush whacker") has pointed out, this is a just plain awful site for a park (see the site plan and location map - 671kB PDF). It's shadowy, damp, and while a café or two might bring some people here, the surrounding buildings generally turn their back on the place. More importantly, it's not a very useful thoroughfare to anywhere, and unless Garrett St is extended through to Victoria St and the mess of carparks between Garrett and Bute Streets are turned into a pleasant pedestrian route with some ground-level activity, it will remain a backwater.

But my green space map shows that Glover Park fills a gap in the green network of Te Aro, so what's to be done? Bush whacker points to the obvious solution: swap it for the car park at Swan Lane:

It's just around the corner, but with sun from mid-morning to late evening, and a couple of popular café/bars perfectly sited to extend their tables into the park. It's on a part of Cuba St that gets more pedestrian than car traffic, and the shortcut to Marion St is relatively well used. The council has attempted this swap before, and while bush whacker suggests that the stumbling block has been the owner's unwillingness to sell, I remember Cr Varnham complaining "why can't they both be parks?", and without a commercial development on the Glover site, the swap was unlikely to be financially feasible.

Now that $1.2 million is being spent on upgrading Glover Park, the swap with Swan Lane looks all but impossible. Still, I do hope that the park upgrade goes well, and that the results attract people to a much improved urban space.