Organizations use International Park(ing) Day to discuss locals' suggestions

A few parking spaces throughout Southwest Michigan were transformed into public parks Friday such as one in Benton Harbor. This also gave residents a chance to express what they would like to see in their neighborhood.

"You or I can say all day long 'they need this they need that' but in reality, if you're not living there you just don't know,” said Shelby Kintz, a graduate architect at Wightman and Associates.

Friday was International Park(ing) Day which means organizations all over the world set up shop in public parking spots.

"This gives us a chance to actually get out with people and say 'hey how ya doin'? What would you like to see? why are you out walkin around today? How can we make this a better place for you to use,” said Kintz.

The tents had the effect organizers were looking for. People stopped to find out what was going on.

"They've been intrigued I'd say is a good word. You know it's kind of unusual to have a tent in the street and especially when were right next to a park! They wonder why were not in the park,” said Richard Hensel, President of Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority.

Locals got the opportunity to write down what they'd like to see in their neighborhood.

"A lot of the comments are playgrounds, splash pads, uh.. way-finding signage so they can find their way home,” said Kintz.

It also had to do with convenience for neighbors.

“They can do meetings but really it's hard to get the word out and get people to show up to those development meetings, BUTT TO: so to get  the community engaged, you need to be where the community is,” said Kintz.

If you missed this event today they still want to hear from you. Just go to the Wightman and Associates Facebook page and leave a comment there.

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