LETTER: Parks make a community

Never ever forget to take notice of the beauty changes can bring.

Never ever forget to take notice of the beauty changes can bring.

Welcome the unexpected changes of life, learn to bend with grace and humility.

These lines of an unknown Japanese poet in a café in Greenwich Village inspired me to look at parks of New York around us. What an eye-opener this was. With so many people living in the high rise apartments you really appreciate how important parks are and how they must not be traded away.

These parks exist because of the determination, vision and tenacity of one man. His name was Robert Moses and a 1,200-page biography is a tribute to how he fought everybody to achieve his goal. Although never elected to any legislature he battled with the city, state and federal governments over straightening and enlarging corridors of traffic. He scrapped with unions, churches many interest groups and even fell foul of Franklin Roosevelt over his desire to improve the lives of people in his huge metropolis. The jewel in the crown of this nation is its parks.

The three parks adjacent to 13th Street West were Union Square, Washington Square and The High Line. Though not large in acreage, they had enormous usage.

Union Square was about 20 acres in size but had wonderful shade, calmness, seating and peacefulness. It had some simple rules because of usage and congestion. No games, organized sports, smoking, barbecues or dogs. These simple rules added quietness, serenity and restfulness amidst the towering maples, beech and oak trees overhead.

Washington Square had all kinds of fun games that were tolerated here. An acrobatic group practised, very young children playing, dogs and walkers. It was a wonderful place for people watching. Two students seemed to be moving digs and were pushing a heavy load up a gentle slope on a strong trolley. They stopped, unloaded a heavy portion from the pile then started assembling something. The mushroom cover was lifted upwards and voila — a grand piano was there. An able pianist delighted us with classical music.

The High Line was the most exciting park in New York. An old high railway line above the streets ran from a meat processing plant to the waiting ships. The meat preparation industry had long gone and it was suggested that the line should be torn down until a group of citizens intervened and suggested it become a park above the city streets. The older buildings have been spruced up and even developed into condominiums and apartments that look down on the magnificent garden pathway.

As the poet says, “never ever forget to take notice of the beauty changes can bring.”

It was a wonderful experience to live in Greenwich Village and the parks were in easy walking of each other. It led me to believe that we must guard our parks in honour of the deep fiduciary trust that early citizens and councils have passed on to us. To fail in this regard would be disastrous. Think well on it.

Vince Rabbitte, Penticton


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