Century Park in Georgestown to be Redesigned

Sharon Ho reports on plans for a new park redesign in Georgestown

What looks like a basketball court and parking lot in Georgestown is actually a park, Century Park, that local residents hope will be re-designed. The Georgestown Neighbourhood Association and the Building Healthy Communities Collaborative organized a meeting last Saturday, at The Lantern on Barnes Road, to discuss the health impacts of the latest design.

Pablo Navarro, co-chair of the Building Healthy Communities Collaborative, facilitated the discussion. Navarro explained that a Health Impact Assessment is like “a marriage between health promotion and an environmental impact assessment.”

What’s being proposed for Century Park includes the current basketball court, an amphitheatre, an edible garden, a storytelling circle, and a parking lot. Numerous residents mentioned the importance of the basketball court as a recreation area for teens because there are few such areas in downtown St.John’s.

“I use the park everyday for basketball,” said Shamus Brown, 16, whose house backs onto the park. “There’s no other place for teens to go. The key element is to keep the basketball court.”

Another resident in the meeting said that there is nowhere else for teens to hang out downtown. “Healthy recreation is so important. It’s what’s stopping them (the teens) from becoming like those old guys in front of the Georgetown Pub.”

Residents say men hang out in front of the pub and do drugs. Brown said the teens are then accused of drug use when they’re just playing basketball.

Everyone agreed that the basketball court is important. Many other residents, including children, called for a flat, green recreation space that would be accessible to people of all ages. Accommodating children, youth, and seniors and other vulnerable populations was a significant part of the discussion.

The next steps for the Health Impact Assessment will be assess the health impacts, write a report, and gather feedback on the report before submitting it to the City of St.John’s. Navarro aims to finish this work by late June.

The Building Healthy Communities Collaborative comprises representatives from public policy, research, and private sectors that are related to health and the built environment, as well as the community at large, who work together to promote, create, and maintain a healthy built environment for Newfoundland and Labrador.

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  • Nice to see this resurrected from the archives. Are we not still waiting for the redevelopment of this park?! And mark me down as another voice for the removal of the back lot parking lot…

  • I have been following this issue closely and attended the public meetings. My understanding is that this is meant to be a neighbourhood park for residents who live within walking distance. It is not meant to be a destination park like Bannerman or Bowring and therefore will not attract drivers from all over the city. Many small neighbourhood parks all over St. John’s don’t have any parking at all, but residents don’t complain because they live close enough to walk with their kids. Currently Century Park has two different parking lots! That’s more than Bannerman Park!

    The back parking lot is known for being a 24 hour drug dealing area. I’ve never parked my car there because I’m afraid of vandalism and theft. If a neighbourhood park is built, the area will be frequented more often by good people who want to play with their children, have a picnic, read a book or toss around a Frisbee. The more this space is utilized by residents, the less it will be utilized by drug dealers.

    The back parking lot in Century Park is huge and under utilized. I walk by Century Park several times a week, day and night, and I’ve been counting the number of cars that are in it. There are usually only three to five cars in the back lot and none along the lane leading to the back lot. The front lot is utilized more, but there are usually one or two spaces open (often more). It doesn’t make sense to keep the gigantic back parking lot for the four or five people who use it on snowclearing nights, when there are dozens more people and children who would benefit from a neighbourhood green space.

    I completely understand and empathize with the concerns of residents who want the back lot for parking. I am a Georgestown resident with a car and I don’t have a driveway either. The new Century Park plan does address the desire of residents who want parking. The design shows that the parking spaces in the back lot will not be completely taken away. The number of spaces will be reduced, but other spaces will simply be moved to the laneway (the lane will be redesigned to accommodate this). Currently no one parks along the lane that leads to the back parking lot.

    I live close to Century Park and we have never had an issue finding somewhere to park our car on streetcleaning and snowclearing nights. There are several other parking areas close by that I prefer to the back lot at Century Park (because of the drug dealers at Century Park).

    I was surprised at the comment someone made about the lane being steep. I’ve lived on other streets in downtown St. John’s that are very, very steep. The lane at Century Park is very flat compared to downtown streets such as Prescott and Victoria that people park on every night in the winter!

    I would love to see this park given a new look and become a greenspace that all residents can enjoy!

  • Parking a few times a year during snow removal is not a reason to keep a dead asphalt lot in a neighbourhood. Where I live, we have to park at a friend’s house or in underground parking at City Hall during snow clearing – which is a minor inconvenience.

    If you want a healthy, outdoor, pedestrian culture, you have to prioritize it.

    • well exactly – i think there are people above who are mistaking an accidental privilege for an entitlement.

    • In winter the proposed green space is deep snow, while what is now a parking lot is plowed prior to snow removal. Proposed development of a new business is predicated on the availability of additional parking in the lot that is to be eliminated in the plan, and angle parking along the lane would be treacherous in winter since it is an uphill grade with no space to trurn.

      Plans ought to be made by people familiar with the area in all seasons.

  • For those commenting on whether there is space available for this, the answer is yes.

    Behind the basketball court there is a rarely used parking lot. According to the plan, the parking lot would be mostly removed, save for side parking along the access road (along the side), and the new park design would fit into where the old parking spaces are, leaving the basketball court intact. Most people would walk to this park anyway as it would be a small green space servicing the neighborhood (unlike, say, Bowering Park where people drive from all over town to go to as it is much bigger and attracts a wider audience).

    I have walked in and around the space proposed for the park, as well as shot some hoops at the basketball nets, and for sure there is definitely room for all of this.

    I think it’s a great idea!

  • The green space will come from the under utilized parking area. Usually only 3 or 4 cars park there unless there is a parking ban in effect. Also the empty lot is used for drug trafficking by vehicles coming into the area. Children under 12 can’t go to Bannerman park alone, they need safe neighbourhood space to play.

  • I didn’t get the layout at first either… The Upper parking space will be converted to greenspace… then the Basketball Court, then the angle parking spaces that are on the road… The upper parking space is no good anyway… to many break ins.

  • As a resident of the downtown I am all for improvements of many kinds. I however have to question the plan for this redevelopment regarding available space….!! I don’t think there is enough room for all that is proposed…..! From what I have read the residents affected want the basketball court to remain, so where is the room for the rest of the plan!! The comment of it being the only space for kids to play isn’t true…there are other places the best of all is Bannerman Park which will be even better soon….when the plan is completed!!

  • Mary, It seems that if they plan it well, it will come out great. Its a very large parking area above the basketball court thats to be converted. The property where the new houses were developed was/is private land . Assuming the City never went after it to purchase it, to incorporate it in the new park….don’t really understand your position. (but agree the new development was poorly executed). We can’t turn down development just because we think it should be a park. Look at the City’s website….the Mapcentre indicates all the applicable zoning.

  • The plan is good but the basketball court should be at the back, not the front. By having in the front you create the barrier that us there today which is not welcoming at all for anyone walking by the front of the park.

    By reversing the plan and you have something that works for everyone, not just the teens playing basketball, and you have a park visable from the street that is inviting to all.

  • Please post a link to the official plan for Century Park. The plan pictured seems to have eliminated the large back parking lot which is essential parking for residents when snow removal opperations are underway.

  • Previous versions of this redesign have included off street parking. The current parking lot on the site is *vital* during winter when snow removal demands that residents with no driveways remove their cars from the streets overnight.The parking in front of the basketball court is already used by other residents. We need about 12 off street parking spaces on this land. Why not develop Davey’s Field as a playground?

  • As a Georgestown resident, I agree 100% with every aspect of this article but I’m perplexed at the proposed plan (as sketched above). Where is that space coming from? I walk by that area every single day and with the (many!) new houses that have been crammed in on the corner of Hayward and Fleming, there’s really no room left for developing anything other than an improved basketball court. If they were truly interested in improving the Georgestown community green space, the city should not have approved the 6 or 7 new houses that have been constructed in such a small space over the last 2 years.

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