Land in our urban areas is very valuable and much of it is currently used for parking. But what might places like Silver Spring be if they had more park space? Today, we are participating in National Park(ing) Day to find out.
Taking several spaces on Ellsworth Drive in Downtown Silver Spring, planners from the Montgomery County Planning Department and other organizations have claimed a few more square feet for parkland in the central business district.
The event is being held today on Ellsworth Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participating in the event are 5 organizations who support a greener future. In addition to the Planning Department (2 spaces), the DC chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism, the Green Commuter, Pyramid Atlantic, and Growing Soul (1 space each) have joined the celebration of public space.
Ellsworth Drive is already the most pedestrian friendly street in Silver Spring. On many weekends, the street is closed to cars, and becomes an extension of the sidewalks. In fact, the adjacent block is closed to traffic today (between Fenton Street and Georgia Avenue).
On the next block, the planning department is using one parking space for a three-dimensional display about complete streets. A complete street is designed to promote its use for all users: pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and cars.
Two other spaces have become temporary extensions of Veterans’ Plaza. They provide the space normally used for storing two cars for relaxation. The final 3 spaces contain displays on cycling, sustainability, and art.
Downtown Silver Spring is one of Montgomery County’s urban areas. And while it’s an extremely walkable place, over 82 acres of ground is devoted to parking. That’s almost 22% of the land area of the CBD. And that number does not include on-street parking.
In comparison, parks, plazas, and privately-owned open spaces make up only 21 acres—a little under 6% of the land area.
Today, Silver Spring’s public open space got a little larger. If you’re in Downtown Silver Spring, stop by the corner of Ellsworth and Fenton to enjoy your street; it’s for people, not just cars.