NORTHAMPTON – As the clouds began to roll in Sunday afternoon, Michael DiPasquale’s brief takeover of the temporary parklet downtown came to an end.
About two dozen people had gathered, starting at noon, to drink coffee, eat a snack and just hang out and chat in the temporary park.
Following a conversation with City Planner Wayne Feiden, DiPasquale sent out an email to friends about having an unofficial party in the miniature park in Crackerbarrel Alley off Main Street.
With a few details in the message – time and place – DiPasquale said it was a low-risk event and the attendees were unlikely to cause problems. “They are my friends; they aren’t going to complain,” he said.
Driving over chairs and tables from his basement in Northampton, DiPasquale, an assistant professor teaching urban design at the University of Massachusetts, brought the party to the street.
DiPasquale said both Mayor David Narkewicz and Feiden stopped by during the almost two hours the group took over the parklet.
The temporary park, DiPasquale explained, highlights a space that people assume has to be surrendered to cars but could be used for something else.
Money for the parklet, or mini park, was raised through a crowdfunding page created by Feiden. MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development and finance agency, committed to $10,000 in matching funds that bring the project’s budget to around $20,000, according to Feiden.
A Smith College landscape studies class is helping Feiden brainstorm the space’s possibilities with final designs expected to be drafted over the winter.