Posted at: 09/15/2012 11:13 PM
| Updated at: 09/17/2012 7:37 AM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - Since 1985, the Washington Park Conservancy has been keeping an eye on things at Albany's Washington Park: raising money, raising awareness, and raising the enjoyment levels for the popular urban oasis.
The original concept in building municipal parks was to create a green space in between the realm of work and home.
"They were to be a place where the classes would mix," said Professor John Pipkin, an expert in geography and urban planning at the University at Albany, and also vice president of the Washington Park Conservancy. "(Parks) were intended as a means of social integration."
The Washington Park Conservancy held its annual fundraiser Saturday night at the Lake House. The goal is to make sure future generations get to experience and explore Albany's 89-acre inner city gem, beginning with improvements to the centerpiece of the park -- the Lake House.
"This Lake House is under utilized now," says Bill Brandow, President of the Conservancy. "It had been used for boating and skating and there was a concession stand. We'd love to bring those things back and I think those are easily realized if we raise the funds."
In addition, Brandow says there are also plans to replace chain link fencing with wrought iron fencing, chips and cracks in the century old marble of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial will be repaired, and about a dozen historical markers will be installed throughout the park.
"It's the Central Park of Albany," said Kyle O'Keefe, who lives in Poughkeepsie, but says he'd visit Washington Park frequently when he was going to school in Albany. "It's a great park to be, especially during nice weather."
During any weather, people will still enjoy a stroll through the park, a respite on a quiet bench, or a playful afternoon with fido. And the overall beauty, floral or otherwise, is unlimited.
Meg Crowe, who lives near the park, and is a frequent visitor, says she'd like to see lights installed.
"It can be unsafe," she says, "and it could be rally nice to walk through here in the evening."
"I think everybody knows instinctively that exposure to this kind of beautiful, restful, relaxing space will always be needed and will always be good," said Professor Pipkin.
What he's referring to are the studies involving environmental psychology that time and again conclude the beneficial affect on humans created by green space and naturalistic scenery.
Conservancy president Bill Brandow says the impact for the city of Albany is incredibly important because it keeps the neighborhood around the park constantly "vibrant and rich."