The City of Lemon Grove secured a SANDAG Smart Growth grant for the redevelopment of a two-block section in their Downtown Village to create a linear park and grand public gathering space that provides critical pedestrian linkages to the adjacent transit station and open space.
The residents of Lemon Grove now have a linear park in the core of the city, a park that encourages walking and social interaction. The adjacent affordable housing and senior housing projects have easy access to urban green space and provide “eyes on the park”. The transit users have a creative and safe walking and waiting environment. The local business community has economic development and retail opportunities. Most importantly, the community has a park of which they are proud, an open space that honors their history, and optimism as the city moves forward.
The concept required the continued use of the right-of-way for transportation purposes, so the linear park and pedestrian orientation of the project became the central theme. To allow for maintenance access to the trolley station and several major underground utility systems, this access was creatively incorporated into the linear plaza. The theme of “Where Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Meet” plays off the city’s agricultural heritage and transitions to the sustainable future of our urban parks. Energy generating artistic sculptures (wind spire, solar tree and windmill), as well as an agricultural-themed playground and picnic area, encourages curiosity and exploration. Creative interpretive panels document the city’s rich history.
As a catalyst for the adjacent areas, the project has inspired further public and private investments. Blighted areas have been eliminated and a new sense of place has been created for the heart of Lemon Grove. Parks can create usable, socially interactive and community spaces without the traditional park facilities. Inequities in park space are commonplace in southern California, especially where populations are the largest and development the most dense. The reuse of a street for park purposes demonstrates how this can be accomplished in other communities. Main Street Promenade is a great example of how a sense of place, wonder, art and history can all be celebrated in one project.