So lately I've been tossing the idea around in my head of what to do with seemingly dead public spaces in Lynn.
There's miles of abandoned rail, endless stretches of sidewalk, median strips, and plenty of acres of barely-used parks and other open spaces the city owns and subsequently the citizens own.
Why not better utilize these existing areas for the benefit of the citizens of Lynn?
I was thinking along the lines of placing small benches on some streets in convenient locales, outside of shops, restaurants, and bars. Planting small flower-beds along the tiny squares of dirt that show up ever so often along sidewalks. Building bike/pedestrian trails along abandoned rail lines and at the same time putting in urban gardens, fruit orchards, small gardens, wildlife-friendly landscaping along these same rails.
Now of course the current mind-set of most Lynners would be "not with my tax dollars you don't!" So it goes without saying that most of these projects would have to be funded privately and created by the neighborhoods in which they are located. Which I think is great. But it leaves one to wonder, what would Lynners spend their tax dollars on? Wider streets, more car lanes, more city workers? It saddens me to think that we as citizens, not just of Lynn but of America, have grown so lazy and content with the paternalism of the Government. We see trash on our very streets, the ones we live on, and think "the city will clean it up" We go to the beach and complain about parking and wonder why the city won't do something about it, but instead most people would stay home if they were recommended to take the bus or better yet, bicycle there.
So what do we do as citizens of our city for our city? I'll answer with what I do. I write my ideas and I read what others have to say. I read the local paper every day, the internet version because currently I am located in NH. In putting my ideas out there and reading what is going on and listening to what others in the city think I am slowly putting together ways to better the community. If my short term goals are fulfilled I'll be coming back to Lynn in the next three or so years with a degree in urban planning and development in the hopes of using it to get a job working at city hall to steer the city down a path to prosperity for all, not physical wealth mind you, although I hope that ends up as a side-effect of better planning and development for Lynn.
Ask not what Lynn can do for you but what you can do for Lynn.
If you see trash on your sidewalk, throw it out. If you're at home and bored and it's summer, go outside and sweep out the storm drain grill or something. Pick up those cigarette butts out front of your house that find their way into the grooves and cracks of the walkway. Buy some flowers and plant them in that empty, half-dirt, half-grass space on the sidewalk along the street.
To get back to the main topic, I am currently working out a few ideas for open public spaces in Lynn and will share them when I can flesh them out a bit. Sadly as it is mid-spring now some of them may not be possible anymore, but what do I know, I'm not a gardener. One of them I am very excited about is my plans for a flower garden at High Rock reservation. Ever drive up there and feel bored with the landscaping? I know I have. But I guess the view of the city and the tower are more the lure to this spot anyways. There's a bit of a grass knoll which you are meant to park along that I think would make the perfect starting point of this garden. In fact, if I can gain enough donations I think I will personally attempt to use my thumb and test its greenness in this project. I guess phase one in my plan for High Rock park would be to cover that entire grass knoll with flowers. I will consult with flower experts as I know nothing about them other than that they are beautiful, attract birds, and give off a pleasant scent. So who is with me?
Phase one, contact the city and explain this plan.
Phase two, if they agree get out the word and enlist people to help that actually know something about gardening , gather money donations for the purchase of flowers, let the neighborhood know.
Phase three, contact the Item and have them take a nice picture and tell the story and try to inspire others in the city to follow suit and make their neighborhoods more beautiful/user-friendly.
Now as I am not super optimistic about the city allowing us to dig up the park and throw flowers all over the place I am going to initially ask for just permission to use the grassy Knoll along the parkway first. If this proves successful and gains positive feedback from the neighbors I think every spring we can try and have the city let us add something new: New flowering/fruit/shade trees, benches, a rose bush border along some of the rock formations, etc.
So that's what I wish to see be the first step to major improvements in the city. Actual usefulness of public spaces. I'm tired of seeing bored, uninspiring, unused public spaces in the city.
So Lynners, ready to get your hands dirty, your brows sweat-lined?