By Mary Visintainer
The middle of the business district along Park Avenue was once home to Goldstein’s South Side Auto Salvage Yard and a variety of warehouses. The junkyard, surrounded by a six foot corrugated sheet metal fence, emitted the smell of burning tires, the sound of dogs barking and crunching cars. Today, at the center of historic Lafayette Square’s business district, is the recently renewed Fountain Park Plaza. The Fountain Park Plaza is used by visitors and neighbors alike as a meeting and event space.
The Lafayette Square Restoration Committee promoted the revitalization of the Fountain Park Plaza using grant funds and in-kind gifts. The walkways have changed from chat to permeable pavement that aid in storm water reduction to the area. In the northwest corner of Fountain Park Plaza is a permeable engraved brick plaza constructed of brick pavers and engraved brick pavers. The engraved bricks raise funds for the continued beautification of the Plaza and support the maintenance of the sustainability project.
Green space has been added through rain garden bump-outs, and new or enhanced plantings have beautified the space. Restoration of the park benches, lining the walkways, finishes the area. The Plaza benches were placed in the Plaza in 2003 and have undergone total restoration by replacing oak slats with Ipe, a sustainable, tropical hardwood known for its durability and its natural resistance to decay, wet conditions and insect infestation. Ipe has lifetime estimates of between 25 and 50 years. The restored benches have been replaced on the new permeable pathways facing the fountain and planted areas.
How you can help maintain Fountain Park Plaza? Become a benefactor through a purchase of an engraved brick or bench. Bricks are available in two sizes and cost $100 and $200 respectively. A donation of $800 pays for the restoration of a bench and includes a brass engraved plaque with your message. You can fill out the order form in this issue. Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent that the law allows. An acknowledgement letter will be mailed to you.