The newest “park” in Hamilton is called Park5, and is located five stories up in the air on the upper level of the city’s McDulin parking garage.
Not everybody is pleased with it, including some residents of the nearby Artspace lofts who are concerned about late-hours noise.
City officials have placed large flower planters and picnic tables — along with menus of nearby restaurants — on the garage’s upper deck. The goal is partly to help area restaurants, but also to provide a unique location within the city.
Officials have downplayed the possibility that the new site may become a party place.
As a way to ease residents’ concerns about noise and other issues, the city last week had a “soft opening” for the upper deck.
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Artspace resident Rob McClellan wrote by email that he was told Park5 “would only be open until 10 (p.m.) in line with noise ordinances.”
“While this was never an official paper statement, that is what residents were led to believe,” McClellan wrote. “Wednesday evening there were still people up at Park5 drinking at 10:40 (p.m.) and half of those people were city employees, their friends and our property manager.”
“I think some of us were concerned that if the employees and our own property manager weren’t going to keep in line with the 10 p.m. noise ordinance on the first night, what would prevent others from doing that also?” he added.
On Friday night, a woman “dumped a drink over the edge at the corner of Market and Second,” McClellan wrote.
He noted, however, that city officials are working out kinks as they test the concept. On the positive side, “I do believe the space looks really nice,” he wrote. “I like the menus up there.”
Those menus list items from Neal’s Famous BBQ, Alexander’s deli and ALL8UP pizza. City Manager Joshua Smith has said he had the idea for Park5 as a way to create more business for those establishments.
City Law Director Heather Lewis recently told the Journal-News she had not been asked to review liability concerns about Park5: “It’s still in the early planning stages, but obviously both law and the city’s insurance carriers would have to carefully review any proposal.”
Jeff Gambrell, executive director of Hamilton! Civic Society Inc., empathized with McClellan’s concerns about noise and partying in Hamilton’s new Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), in which people are allowed to walk around with open containers of alcohol from noon to midnight seven days a week. The drinks must be purchased from participating establishments.
“I too have witnessed such incidents taking place with people falling down spilling their DORA beer in Rotary Park (next to the parking garage) making the space which was designed for families to enjoy feel like a college town,” Gambrell wrote.
City Planning Director Liz Hayden noted in an email the city is conducting “monthly check-ins about the DORA to assess how things are going.”
Feedback about DORA “is really helpful,” she wrote.
As a result of some feedback, the city soon will add eight new trash containers where they were needed.
“So far, things seem to be going well, and where we know we have issues we are making improvements,” she wrote. “But we don’t know what we need to work on without input.”
Hayden said the city does not intend for Park5 to be “a party pad.”
While large economic-development projects are changing the future of Hamilton, little ones, like Park5 and DORA, also are significant, she said.
“Alive After 5, RiversEdge and the Hamilton Flea all began as small projects with barely any budget, but I think they’ve been just as important to the revitalization of Hamilton as bigger projects,” Hayden said. “Local entrepreneurs following their dreams and opening up businesses, one storefront at a time, are changing our community. And these small changes tend to attract the big, catalytic projects that are also so important.”