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Ten things to do at Reynolds Park and the power of ten

This gorgeous building on East Washington is where Mautz Paint lived for years.
It is just ripe a new incarnation.

9 things to do currently at Reynolds Park:

- play a field game (like kickball, ultimate frisbee, baseball)
- check out the view from on the rooftop of the water utility building (while watching bike polo)
- read the TLNA newsletter
-eat an ice cream cone from nearby Madtown Pizza (or a taco from the cart outside Breese Stevens Field when the Madison 56ers have a game, or sip a coffee from Johnson Public House...)
- fly a kite
- play with your dog
- play guitar
- have a picnic
- watch construction trucks

According to current thoughts on what makes a place people-friendly, you need ten things to do there. The City of Madison has adopted the power of 10 idea and Mayor Soglin, being the practical leader that he is, suggests that the slogan "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" is a no-brainer.

Fred Kent, an urban planner of the new variety from the Project on Public Spaces, was the keynote at the 1000 Friends of Wisconsin's conference on Monday. I found the whole day so interesting. I could write ten blog posts in ten million directions.

For example, ten things I heard about my neighborhood, which in City parlance is the Cap East district:

-It is "the next place to be" (that is a slogan I think someone was paid to come up with!)
-The timing is bad for making East Washington any more people friendly because the big construction project was just done.
-The City has a new transportation plan that presumes we will have light rail eventually.
-The Yahara River is now [suddenly/finally] understood to be a hugely under-appreciated area. (We've known that, of course.)
-Replacing the living lawn at Breese Stevens Stadium with astro turf means that it can be used for festivals and concerts in the future. The bathrooms are going to be dealt with. Parking, however, is not yet figured out.
-Increased parking needs, and traffic patterns in general, are not yet figured out. Underground parking is not an option due to the soil on the isthmus.
-The developer of The Constellation, Otto Gebhardt, has turned down chain restaurants that want the ground-level space. He's holding out for the perfect local foodie place. Google is moving in to the second floor office space.
-The guys who are proposing to redevelop the old Mautz Paint building into Starting Block talk like it's happening, but the City guys talk as if it's still an open conversation.
-The tennis courts on top of the Water Utility building at Reynolds Park are going to be resurfaced.
-Local landowners and long-time business owners in the Cap East district are tired of being left out of the conversation about the area's future. The time is ripe for these interests to claim their voice and to be represented as a BID, or Business Improvement District. Madison has one BID (Downtown Madison/State Street), while Milwaukee has forty.

Orange snow fencing surrounds the Reynolds Park playground area right now. Big metal playground equipment, concrete trucks, bulldozers and other major landscaping implements are on their way.

On the lighter, quicker, cheaper model, I'm mentally planning a party in the park that will throw open the new space to welcome neighbors new and old to enjoy it. A spring-time party to celebrate.

There are at least 10 things I'd like to see happening at the Reynolds Park party of the future:

-Kids climbing the new boulder
-People lounging on the hills
-Grills hot and cooking food for sharing
-Community members embellishing chain link fences with temporary installations of color
-A kids's marketplace of lemonade stands and bake sales
-Face painting. hoola hooping, bubble making, unicycle riding, stilt-walking
-A band playing under the trees
-Blankets, folding chairs, and impromptu benches made from pallets, logs, and crates
-Sign-making to note all the varieties of flowering vines along the fence on East Mifflin
-A DJ dance party on top of the water utility building

This stuff is easy. Reynolds Park is ready to go from inadequate to extraordinary. But the new playground equipment alone will not transform the park into a welcoming place. A good place feels good and people want to be there. It has to be a multi-use destination (not just a park) where people interact with the space dynamically. Of course, not because we are intent on "placemaking," just because it is attractive and feels like the most natural thing in the world to do.

Seriously, that rooftop is a secret asset! I want to find 10 ways to use it!

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