A trio of young women near Pacific Beach Elementary School guided by a neighbor has taken on a community-improvement project: creating the first-of-its-kind mini-park in their neighborhood.
“It took a lot of different people, a lot of crashed meetings, a lot of dead ends, a lot of new friendships – even a few lost ones – to succeed with the PB Planning Group. It's been a year-long effort so far,” said Laurel Ehrenfreund, who lives on Tourmaline Street.
Ehrenfreund is helping Lyla Wolff, Sadie Whelehan and Izzy Barth in designing and lobbying for transforming a 1,000-square-foot linear strip into public park space.
It all began with a planned sidewalk extension by the City, and a spared tree.
“They’re (City) planning on putting a sidewalk through all the way to the corner, and we have some plans,” said Lyla, holding up a hand-drawn rough draft titled Garden or Nature Stuff. “We’re also going to have a take-a-book, give-a-book library.”
Added the eighth-grader, “Since we’re planning on having a lot of plants, we’re going to need people to maintain it.”
“They (public) can adopt it,” chimed in Wolff’s friend Sadie, of their proposed community-improvement project. “It’s going to be a place someone walking could stop, a neighborhood mini park. We’re going to have flowers and benches, and it’s going to be a hangout place, like a community garden. It’s also nice because its right by the elementary school, so it could be an after-school place.”
“I think it’s really cool that we’re doing this because, when we were in school at PBMS, we would walk home and there was a tire swing on Chalcedony; and we would always go there after school and swing,” pointed out Barth. “It’s really fun that we get to do that here, now, so that other people have that experience.”
“I know part of their plan is to get PBE involved as caretakers of the garden. We really see it as a community project; members of beautifulPB have also offered to help out, as has Ben Ryan, from Tourmaline Builders,” said Ehrenfreund. “We still have some pieces to iron out… the original plans called for the construction of the sidewalk to begin after a wastewater project is completed in February.”
And the mature Brisbane Boxtree at one end of the proposed “strip” mini park, will be the centerpiece of the project.
“We were set to lose the huge, beautiful, 50-plus-year-old shade tree as well as a nice plot of unpaved land that was to be paved over,” noted Ehrenfreund. “But we were able to turn things around so that now we'll have a very special area for the public and possibly PB's first micro-park.”
Ehrenfreund said neighbors have been mostly receptive to the mini park proposal, though at least one would prefer parking there.
The mini park project has been a lesson for all concerned.
“We’ve definitely learned a lot about how to get things approved and what the City might bring up, what might be a problem,” said Lyla.
“We’ve had a few zooms with the City and a few with PB Planning Group and beautifulPB,” noted Sadie.
“These girls have been to OB Planning Board and their streets and sidewalks committee, as well as beautifulPB,” said Ehrenfreund adding, “My goal was for them to see how it works, to get community action to happen. What you’ve got to do. Where you have to show up? Who’s in charge?”
Concluded Ehrenfreund of her park pupils: “They’re like a dynamic trio right now. And it’s really been a big lesson for me to understand that, if you want your community to be nice, you have to get in there and get your elbows greased.”
A Go Fund Me page has been created for the mini-park project at