Monday, September 29, 2008

Parks vs. Parking

I've spent the past several days thinking about open space issues in Waterbury, and stumbled onto an intriguing question: how many acres of parking lots are there in Waterbury? There are 905 acres of parks, which Mayor Jarjura says is "enough" (I strongly disagree). Jarjura, a developer, has encouraged the conversion of outlying woodlands into new office and retail spaces with ample parking lots (next weekend I think I'll be ruminating on urban sprawl). If all of the unprotected woods and fields in Waterbury were turned into parking lots and nondescript buildings, what would the ratio of pavement to greenery be?

During the hot summer months, I'm always acutely aware of parking lots. All of that open pavement radiates heat, making the summer hotter, while in the shade of the forest, the summer is cooler. In the winter, the cold wind blows freely across parking lots, while woodland trees offer a little bit of protection from the biting cold.

I wish I knew how many acres of parking lots there are in Waterbury. I could probably figure out an estimate from a map, but that would be very time consuming, so how about just a preliminary list of lots (I'm not including the parking lot between the library and City Hall because the huge old trees there make it just as much a park as a parking lot):

Buckingham Ramparage
Palace Theater/WAMS parking garage
UConn parking garage
Prospect Street parking garage
the train station parking lot and the newspaper parking lot and garage
Meadow Street parking lot (below Library Park)
Home Depot/Sports Authority
parking garages at both hospitals
Colonial Plaza
every single small shopping site in town--CVS, Walgreens, Frankie's, McDonald's, etc.
Brass Mill Mall
Wal-Mart and Stop & Shop
Marshall's and the former Shop-Rite center
the new Shop-Rite
Target/Stop & Shop mini-mall
the long strip of businesses on Lakewood Road
every condo complex

There are plenty more that I could add to the list. I would not be at all surprised to learn that there are more acres of parking lots than of parks, even though parks add much more to the city's quality of life. Obviously, businesses need parking lots, but I think they need to be less utilitarian and less sprawling.

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