It sounds a bit self serving, but we can’t help but hope Christine Keefe’s proposal for 124 W. Front St. comes to fruition.
Keefe, co-owner of 123 Speakeasy, recently floated an idea to convert the fallow lot across the street from her storefront into a temporary park.
Passersby can’t miss the lot she’s talking about, it’s the one shrouded by an uninviting chain-link fence immediately adjacent the Record-Eagle.
The 1.25-acre lot, most of it sloping toward the river, stretches from the west wall of the Record-Eagle to the new bridge that spans the Boardman River behind J&S Hamburg. The parcel has lingered vacant for several years, including through a development plan that called for underground parking and condominium units.
The lot may someday be home to a new building — it’s currently up for sale — but in the meantime, why not spruce it up a bit?
Usable parkland along the banks of the Boardman River is scarce, so the prospect of even temporarily opening the lot to the public sounds wonderful.
Keefe’s idea calls for a few relatively low-impact improvements at the site, including a bit of landscaping, maybe some sculptures or a mural and temporary tree plantings. She even imagines showing movies at the park on an inflatable outdoor screen.
It’s a dream that seems to be gathering steam with support from neighborhood groups and at least some level of buy-in from Downtown Development Authority CEO Jean Derenzy.
The idea still needs to clear a few hurdles, including getting the property owner to agree to the temporary public tenant.
Every time we stroll past the jagged steel pilings and fabric shroud that has become a staple at 124 W. Front St., we imagine the possibilities for that stretch of Boardman River frontage.
Now, we have a little more food for thought.