They took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to see ’em
For those citizens who think we haven’t paved over or converted enough land for our automobiles to relax on, the good news is, work on a new parking lot is slated to start this month. The bad news, for those of us who feel, at the very least, a few areas should remain off-limits to cars, is that it will be constructed on Denning’s Point, at the juncture of several walking and cycling trail heads.
Now that the Denning’s Avenue Bridge repairs and alterations are complete, work will begin on projects tied to a $500,000 grant given to the Beacon Rivers and Estuaries Institute by the Regional Economic Development Council. The changes are intended to “transform portions of Denning’s Point into a more visitor-friendly park” according to the Highland Current. The grant blurb after the award was announced earlier this year:
The Beacon Institute will transform part of an abandoned factorybuilding into a multi-purpose public asset, including vehicleparking and a picnic pavilion. The shoreline adjacent to thepavilion will also be restored and stabilized. The industrialbuilding’s roof will be converted into a solar photovoltaic array.The park’s shoreline trail will also be upgraded and newinterpretive signage will enhance the public’s understanding ofthe park’s wildlife habitats.
Drive Bye Birdie
Soon folks will be able to drive in, get out of their cars, and be about 1 minute’s walk from the eagle pavilion or the Denning’s Point trail. Compare that to going to the mall on a Saturday, parking your car, and walking perhaps 5 or 10 minutes to get to the store you want to visit.
Perhaps this is “visitor-friendly” to some, but there is value in a transitional walk to a final “destination.” Not to mention the fact that having cars in these areas will completely transform the experience. Build it and they will come. We would facetiously suggest extending the concept, and just letting cars drive through the pavilion itself so that people don’t have to be troubled to get out and walk at all, but somebody at the Parks Department or Rivers and Estuaries might apply for another grant.
In preparation for this new form of traffic, the bridge includes a divider, so that hikers, walkers, bicyclists–anyone not encased in a car–know where they belong. For this even to be remotely logical, they will need to pave over the gravel road leading to the bridge and put in sidewalks, so that the current divider is not some stupid 30-foot section of “protection.” (Please, don’t. That would just be 800ft plus 30ft of stupid.) Chances are good that a lovely historic bridge like this is not allowed to be restored with State money without adding this non-functional eyesore. (If we really want protection, how about addressing the pedestrian turn from Main Street to East Main by the Dummy Light? Walking there, where there is no curb and a steep grade as cars come ripping down always feels like you are one texting driver away from getting squished against the wall of One East Main.) But don’t kid yourself, these “enhancements” have little to do with safety and everything to do with making things convenient and expedient for cars.
Thank you for manicuring and mediating our “wildlife habitat” experience. Finally, we’ll be able to enjoy this enhanced, upgraded, interpreted, visitor-friendly public asset park in the way that nature intended.