Question: What is a pocket park and do we really need one?
Answer: A “pocket park” is a small, outdoor park usually developed on an otherwise forgotten space in a “pocket” surrounded by other buildings. Growing in popularity, pocket parks can bring shade, quiet, and enhanced property values to urban areas. Parks have been shown to increase the overall well-being in neighborhoods and provide greater physical and mental health to its residents.
Question: Who will own the park?
Answer: While the HMP park will be zoned a park by the city, it will be privately owned by HMP. Private ownership of the HMP pocket parks also means that HMP will be responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.
Question: Will the park attract people from outside the neighborhood and bring more people to my street?
Answer: Pocket parks are modest, without all of the big amenities that city parks offer, and are generally used only by neighbors. There are many larger parks in the area with greater amenities. Pocket parks in general serve as gathering spaces for neighborhood residents as well as provide quiet, reflective space. Those wanting more active accommodations such as basketball hoops or a large gathering space will be more likely to select Al Polin Park or another nearby, city-owned park.
Question: Will the park will bring more crime (vagrants, drug dealing) to my street?
Answer: Although unkempt parks could actually increase crime, the bulk of the data shows that well-maintained parks can actually deter crime and strengthen neighborhoods. Making sure we have a strong, well-established maintenance plan will be essential to securing the park. Additionally, penalties for illegal activities (drug use, pedophilia, public indecency) are actually higher for public spaces like parks than they are for private property. This could work in HMP’s favor and drive out unwanted activities from our neighborhood. The park will have dawn to dusk hours. After-hours visitors, excessive noise, or unwanted activity will result in a call to police. We will also work with our police liaison to try to get the park regularly patrolled.
Question: What will be done to ensure the park doesn’t look unkempt?
Answer: There will be a landscaping plan that will use plants that are drought-resistant and there will be a task force that cares for the park. The space will look significantly better than it does now.
Question: Will the park mean more trash and who will be responsible for keeping it clean?
Answer: Empty lots invite trash. Communities have used public gardens and other beautification methods such as pocket parks to deter crime and reduce litter. Trash containers will be placed in the park for visitors. HMP will have a maintenance plan in place to provide for the upkeep of the parks. Beyond the maintenance plan put in place by HMP, residents are encouraged to participate in the upkeep and beautification of the park.
Question: Will there be people in the park at night?
Answer: City-zoned parks have established hours of operation from dawn to dusk. It is illegal to use the park after dark.
Question: Will the park bring down the value of my home?
Answer: Parks have been shown to increase property values and the attractiveness of a neighborhood to potential buyers. Herron Morton, Fall Creek Place, Old Northside, Cottage Home, and other neighborhoods all have pocket parks. It is unusual for an urban neighborhood to not have a pocket park. A lack of greenspace could actually deter home buyers.
Question: Are there resources in Indianapolis that can be used to develop a pocket park?
Answer: Since 1995, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., (KIBI) in partnership with Indianapolis Power & Light Company and the City of Indianapolis, has helped neighborhoods, schools, churches, and other community-based organizations create beautiful places from vacant lots, old parking lots, medians, or little-used areas. Often, these sites are neglected and overgrown, inviting littering, illegal dumping, or worse. These little-used, undervalued, or detrimental places are transformed into community assets: green and beautiful places that build community, encourage community pride, and add value to neighborhoods across Indianapolis.
Question: Are there examples of pocket parks in Indianapolis that we can look at?
Answer: In 2011, KIBI has helped develop or is in the process of assisting many groups in developing pocket parks. Some examples:
- 1960 Hillside Avenue: This is a new pocket park on a vacant lot that has had a lot of illegal dumping on it, being located on a busy street with not too many businesses nearby. This park will have a community vegetable garden as its focus with areas for relaxing and building friendships.
- Tuxedo Park Baptist Church: They own 3 lots across the street from the church (and are trying to buy 2 more) and want to build an open greenspace for the neighborhood kids to play. They also want to have a space for large outdoor parties and events and want to add a community garden at some time in the future. The park will be visible from Washington Street, but would be designed to keep kids away from the traffic.
- 701 West St. Clair Street: Situated right on the Cultural Trail, this small piece of land sits vacant and unused. The neighborhood wants it to be a stopping and resting place for those who use the trail and put in amenities to make it a people park, not the dog park it has become up to now.
Other pocket parks closer to HMP include Herron Morton, Fall Creek Place, Old Northside, and Cottage Home.
Question: Are there design guidelines for pocket parks?
Answer: Pocket parks vary widely in appearance and character. HMP will consult with residents on design ideas. HMP residents are encouraged to submit ideas and engage in the development of the pocket park. However, some elements of a pocket park are essential. To discourage illegal activity, most of the park should be highly visible from the street. The community should provide trash cans that are emptied frequently and regular maintenance. It should also have at least one shade tree.
Question: Who will decide whether HMP establishes a pocket park?
Answer: The HMP Board will host neighborhood information sessions that will ultimately result in a vote taken by the HMP Neighborhood Association membership. If you are interested in voting, but are not sure whether you have paid your 2011 dues, please visit the HMP website dues page. You can also renew your membership on site at our information sessions.