You have probably noticed the construction taking place at the south end of Veterans Square these past few months: an unsightly chain-link fence; the temporary elimination of diagonal parking on the west side of the street and a lot of noise. Well, the chain-link fence is down, the parking spaces are back and a beautiful new sidewalk park—Veterans Square Garden—is nearly complete. Only a few tasks remain—the main one being adjustments to make the space fully ADA accessible.
The park provides a narrow strip of green and pleasant sitting area just off State Street, in the heart of Media’s downtown (OK, it is not green just yet, but give it two or three months). The site was chosen because of the unusually wide sidewalk on that block, more than double the width of other State Street sidewalks. Borough Council saw it as an opportunity to bring a little nature into our concrete downtown and create a welcoming public space for residents and visitors to gather, sit, relax and cool off on hot days (once the trees have grown ).
Council planned this project with the idea of bringing in community perspective from the beginning. Before hiring the project designer, the Borough met with local gardeners, landscape experts and green space advocates four times to brainstorm about and shape this project. Their ideas and input provided the landscape architect with the concept for the park and put a local stamp on the resulting plan.
The project replaced 1,138 square feet of concrete sidewalk with an eight-foot-wide strip of native trees, shrubs and plantings running the length of the block. Among the greenery are benches and a hardwood deck bordered by long, deep planters with billowy native grasses. The deck offers café tables with charging outlets and a ledge with bar stool-style seating. Subdued bollard lights and wall lights make the park safe and enjoyable for night-time use. A bike rack at the south end of the plantings provides additional parking.
At the south end of the park a fifteen-foot bump out with trees and plantings extends the garden into the street (a matching bump out for the north end was planned, but excavation uncovered an underground vault, which made installation impossible). The bump out includes a bio-retention system designed to capture stormwater runoff from State Street, allowing it to infiltrate into the soil where pollutants can be filtered out before the water reaches Ridley Creek.
When spring arrives and the newly planted trees and plantings begin to bud, leaf out and flower, Veterans Square Garden will reveal itself as a lovely downtown oasis for all to enjoy.