Sunday, August 17, 2008
Now that's what I call a Park!
Lucky are the citizens of Westfield, Massachusetts. Back in the 1949, a generous citizen established a private park for public use -- Stanley Park.
For reasons which I'll get into below, my family spent a few hours in Stanley Park today. From the moment I stepped out of my car, I was smitten with jealousy.
First, it was the Japanese garden tucked into the woods.
Then it was the duck pond and covered bridge. There were several beautiful and prominent trees, given the right environment to thrive.
And the playground was designed by someone who understands what families with young kids need - note the variety of shade, sun, grass, benches, covered sand pit, and climbing structure (public bathrooms and picnic pavilion just out of view.)
Supported by a private foundation, this park is filled with blooming flowers and a full schedule of public events. Apparently, the park's benefactor made his fortune after leaving Hartford's Fuller Brush Company and starting his own Stanley Home Products.
I know that Middletown has its own treasures -- the Long Hill Estate and the potential of the Riverfront come to mind. But this little town of Westfield, MA has something really special -- someday, I hope that Middletown has something like it. A truly great public park can be more than just an amenity for the locals -- it can draw tourists as well. After all, we came all the way from Middletown.
[We were at the park because it is the designated practice site for the regional competitive "foam swords" group, and I carried a car-load of teenagers up for the day.]