Logan Parklet, September 2012
Thanks to a $10,000 grant to Logan CDC from WalMart, the Logan Parklet has returned to the street in front of the Logan Branch Library on Wagner Avenue and Old York Road.
The grant covers costs for the parklet’s installation, deconstruction in November, plantings, insurance, new hardware, and some programming.
Since Logan CDC launched its parklet in early September, its season was brief, but Logan CDC’s Tya Winn said they learned a lot in a short time and that there are high hopes for this year’s Logan Parklet season. Chief among the lessons: Programming is key to their parklet’s success.
The Logan Parklet is unique in that it is on a primarily residential block, outside of a library. Because the library is closed on weekends (and closes at 5pm three days per week) the parklet’s foot traffic is different than one outside a café in University City, for example.
“We had the most success…when we’re actively advertising and sending people to it,” Winn said. Additionally, events were the best form of neighbor outreach because they offered an opportunity for passers by to ask questions about this new, and a bit mysterious, feature of the streetscape.
“I’ll see people walking on the sidewalk and they want to sit down or step on it and they’re not sure. They think that it belongs to somebody,” Winn said.
Neighbors are still very much learning how to use the parklet, Winn acknowledged, but there is a lot of interest among community groups interested in hosting events there.
“This year there’s many more voices,” Winn said of the parklet’s programming. Already Logan CDC has a busy calendar of events (with plenty of unstructured time for casual users to enjoy the seating areas).
This year’s programming is being informed by increased involvement by library staff, as well as a parklet planning committee comprised of community leaders, representatives from neighborhood organizations, and residents who have a lot of new ideas for the space too.
Library staff is actively planning uses and events for the parklet, from “boredom busters” afternoon programs for teens, sidewalk chalk story time on Fridays, and a morning reading circle for young children. And on Tuesday and Thursday evenings the library stays open until 8pm, and “Late night at the library” programs, like chess and drawing, will make use of the parklet as well.
Last year Logan CDC's four movie nights were by far the best-attended events at the parklet, so there are 12 Friday night movies scheduled for this summer.
Beyond creating an active new public space for the neighborhood, Winn notes, evening programming at the parklet may also have helped decrease quality of life crimes. Because the Library is closed on weekends and only open late two nights per week, the property had dark spots that attracted negative elements. But Winn has heard that once more evening uses were planned those negative activities started to disappear.
Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.