Kennedy Plaza could be better, but come on.

The Village Green Preservation Society Yesterday the Project for Public Space put on a generally productive and informative session on ways to transform Kennedy Plaza. But there’s been way too much of this, latent and explicit:

Then there’s the issue of the homeless. Kennedy Plaza, and particularly Burnside Park, is a frequent refuge for the homeless year-round. Kent said that the best way to approach the issue of what he called the “undesirables” is to make the park a draw for others.

“The best way to handle the undesirables is to make it attractive to everyone else,” he said.

I’m very much interested in ways of transforming Kennedy Plaza into a space that’s beneficial to everybody — and many such ideas were raised today: reconfiguration of streets, lighting, plantings, newsstands, more commerce, etc. And, of course, providing sufficient funding for RIPTA.

But I am not interested in further marginalizing people who already have it rough, in shoving them away, in closing off our public spaces from them. And to the extent to which that’s an end of participants in these conversations, let’s please all keep watch.

2 thoughts on “Kennedy Plaza could be better, but come on.”

  1. I don’t think Mr. Kent was getting at what you interpreted it as David, or maybe I was giving him the benefit of the doubt and re-interpreting his comments in my own head.

    I think what he was saying, was there’s not too much to draw people to the area now, and there is a real or perceived problem with “undesirables” keeping people away. If you give everyone enough reasons to want to be there, then the “undesirables” become part of the crowd. I don’t think his goal was to drive people out, but to make the area attractive enough that certain peoples’ “undesirableness” doesn’t keep everyone else away.

    Alix mentioned (I think in my group, not to the greater collection of people) that some outreach was done to Hope High students. They are often pointed at as one of the undesirable elements in the plaza. The result of talking to them was that they learned that the students hang out in the plaza for no real reason other than that’s where they hang out. If they had something better to do somewhere else, they’d meet somewhere else. Yes, eventually they are getting on buses, but they really don’t like the plaza either, and there are people there that make them uncomfortable, and they’d be happy to have someplace else to hang out after school before they get on their buses and head home.

    Alix seemed to really want to get basketball hoops into the Skating Center when there wasn’t ice there. Movable hoops that could quickly be cleared for an event. I imagine that would move a lot of the students out of the plaza if it were implemented.

  2. super disorganized comment:

    kennedy plaza was redesigned only a few years ago…

    In ’98 KP had a clean set of shelters and benches, clearly labeled stops that were organized by number (not letter), and written schedules (not electric) that never fell prey to short circuits…

    it was also overly policed and I was frequently exposed to pepper spray and other “crowd control” gases when the mounted command saw too many young people getting excited during the after-school hours.

    In my opinion Kennedy Plaza is now great in terms of how the buses move around, but a mess for the people who use it. The park is much more beautiful and used by many different people (indigent and healthy employed citizen alike) in the more temperate months. We have a space, it’s all about putting it to use. Pride was at Kennedy Plaza last year. The X Games used KP. NPR had their little minibus collecting stories. I have used KP almost every day from 1998-2002 and 2006-present. Perhaps meetings about redesigning KP should be taken to the people who use it? Maybe we should be asking people how to better transform their space when and where they can participate (instead of during normal work hours in a fancy schmancy hotel with a required preregistration)?

    Food for thought.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence Daily Dose