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Every Park has a Story
Just as every individual has a unique story to tell, each parcel of land in our region comes with a rich history, too. You just may have to dig a little to find it.
As crews work to revitalize an abandoned corner lot on Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street in Downtown Scranton into a community greenspace, we recently did a little digging of our own. This quarter-acre of land has been the site of a variety of businesses over the years. In the 1930s, Smith & Howley electric shop, Anthracite Press, Inc., Scranton School Supply Company, and the American Coffee Company were among them. From the mid-1950s to 2000, a dry cleaner operated on site.
The site that once bustled with activity has been vacant for many years, but we’re excited that the story of 248-256 Wyoming Avenue doesn’t end there. In partnership with the City of Scranton and Lackawanna County, Scranton Tomorrow is developing a new pocket park on this land.
What is a Pocket Park?
Sometimes called mini parks, vest-pocket parks, or parkettes, pocket parks are simply very small parks. “Pocket parks are urban greenspaces that meet a variety of community needs,” said Leslie Collins, President and CEO of Scranton Tomorrow. “They’re frequently created on forgotten or underutilized lots within downtown districts, and very often these projects are collaborative efforts.”
The lot on the corner of Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street is an ideal location for a project like this. “This parcel of land is located in a hub of magnificent historic structures, such as St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Ritz Theater and Performing Arts Center, St. Peter’s Cathedral, and the William J. Nealon Federal Building,” Collins said.
Healthy People, Healthy City
There are so many benefits to developing small urban greenspaces. Steve Ward, Scranton Tomorrow’s Safe, Clean, Green and Design Program Manager, has been studying the impact of community greenspaces for years. In addition to the obvious visual appeal of landscaped areas, he said pocket parks support healthy communities.
“Trees sequester carbon, so developing greenspaces reduces pollution. Of course, trees also provide shade and absorb radiant heat. Landscaping absorbs rainwater and runoff, which reduces the amount of storm water in drainage systems,” he said. The inviting setting encourages socialization, physical activity, and it gives people a chance to relax and commune with nature. Pocket parks increase biodiversity and attract wildlife. As a result, there’s greater interaction among people who enjoy these spaces.
Imagine the Possibilities
This time next year, the park will be filled with trees, flower beds, and plenty of greenery. A small event space will accommodate community programs for people of all ages. From First Friday exhibits to summer reading programs, the possibilities are endless. “It’s exciting to see a blighted area transform into a sustainable community asset,” Collins said. Soon, this land will reach its greatest and greenest potential.
The pocket park project is made possible with funding support from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Economic Development (DCED). For more information about this and other projects visit Scranton Tomorrow. And don’t forget to follow along on social media to keep up with all of our exciting projects.