By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,460)
“We are finding people who don’t know what is going with this park. They think the sale to Rockbridge is a done deal,” said Ian Jacob, at the start of the monthly First Friday Walk late this afternoon. Jacob and other members of the group are opposed to the sale of a downtown city park to a developer who would turn most of it into an events center for the new Westin Inn.
At its May meeting, the city’s Housing and Community Development Committee voted for the city’s staff to enter into negotations with RockBridge over its possible purchase of the park. The vote was 3 to 1 with District 1 councilor Kevin Donooghue, the sole dissenting vote. The process could take between 4 to 12 weeks. The matter will be returned to the HCDC for its consideration.
The group doesn’t want the park sold to a private developer. It sets a precedent that our parks are for sale to the highest biddder, said Jacob. “I’d rather see all our surface parking lots sold to developers.” Although the city needs money in its coffers, that does not resonate with Jacob. For him and the other opponents, money is not the issue here.
The Friends of Congress Square Park asked passersby to say what they would like to see in this city Park. There were suggestions, but no one had any ideas on how the ideas would be funded. The Friends do not yet have 501(c) tax exemption, but hope that process will be implemented soon.
Clifford Tremblay, a junior architect, has proposed a plan for the park which would fill in the sunken part with more earth and create a diagnol parth through the park so people can cut through the Park. There could be edges of activity year-round, Tremblay said.
In the meantime, the Friends will be at the Park every Friday afternoon between 4:30 pmm to 6:00 pm to educate people about the Park said Frank Turek, chair of the Friends. “We’d like people to write letters or contact city councilors and donate time and money to the effort,” said Turek.
Please visit Post # 1,424, dated 5/29/13 for more background information. Please also visit www.congresssquarepark.org