Supplement Feature - April 2020
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Finding Space for Parks

The Ins and Outs of Pocket Park Planning & Design

By Dave Ramont


Marner points out other sustainable features as well. "The pergola supports solar panels, which provide shade for the patio and also provides electricity for the central water fountain and lighting of the pocket park." The 32 photovoltaic panels produce 7,000 watts of electricity, making the site a net-zero impact.

In fact, based on Snyder & Associates' master plan, the project received a grant for the implementation of the green infrastructure elements. "A grant was secured from the Iowa Economic Development Authority," said Marner. "The owner also paid to cover cost. The city of Marshalltown also participated, assisting with costs associated with storm sewer improvements in the parking lot."

Park visitors now enjoy relaxing outdoors, eating lunch or visiting with friends. It's a common site for high school senior pictures or wedding photos. The Gallery Garden has been incorporated into community festivals and hosted graduations, weddings, birthday parties, fundraisers and other private events. The owners have presented to groups and visitors on the storm water management details, and interpretive signage details sustainable park infrastructure components.

"This pocket park is privately-owned, but available to the public," said Marner. "The owners are very committed to downtown viability and the community, and are extremely excited about how the community has embraced this project and space. I believe there will be more opportunities to re-create public space in downtown areas and this project is an example of how a successfully designed space can be an attraction and bring people together."

"Present-day landscape architects continue to innovate," said Birnbaum, "but I think that one of the core ideas of many of the early and influential vest pocket parks remains true: employing simple designs that maximize flexibility, ease of maintenance and passive enjoyment. Places for repose and relaxation in the city are as central to the work today as when vest pocket parks were ushered in as a new idea more than a half century ago." RM