Residents of the 1800 Block of Saratoga, led by Block Captain Donald Quarles, have organized efforts to stop chronic illegal dumping; restore scars on the block caused by the expansive demolition of deteriorating vacant homes; and establish a positive space to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
During the design process, members of the community brought their own hopes and visions for the park. The result: a space that accommodates adults and children, is aesthetically pleasing, provides a connection to the natural outdoors, extends accommodations for resident enjoyment, while incorporating the community’s goals to create a synergy between residents’ cherished pastimes and the serenity prayer. Today, Kirby Lane Park has a horseshoe pit (the most popular pastime of the block), play structures and swing sets, and a serenity garden; space for neighbors to gather for long afternoons underneath the large tree canopy, observe birds in the native bird garden, and enjoy the slowness of nature. Further enhancing and beautifying the space, the colorful backdrop of local artist Bridget Cimino’s Serenity Mural is a focal point, drawing visitors in to enjoy the ambiance.
The community began the work to transform the space by doing neighborhood cleanups, pruning the bushes, installing natural fencing, and creating log seating. Now, the community utilizes the tree canopy on hot days, partake in intimate conversations, and even organize small group cook-outs. Donald has even begun a new and well-loved tradition of holding seasonal and community festivals in the space. “It’s peaceful, always has a breeze, stays cool, and it feels safe so I can relax,” says Donald.