Here’s a chance for your touch to the Iola scene

Thomas Hoving died recently in New York City, giving historians an opportunity to recall that when he was New York’s park commissioner in 1966 he championed the cause of pocket parks, the conversion of small, sometimes irregularly shaped, parcels of land into dots of quiet beauty in an otherwise harsh urban scene: places where trees would be planted, fountains in-stalled, a park bench or two placed to invite strollers to rest a minute.
It wasn’t a new idea, of course. Pocket parks, mini-parks, vest-pocket parks have given city dwellers delight since there have been cities. Hoving gets credit be-cause he went for deluxe models that featured waterfalls 20 feet high in the heart of the city and also for volume.
But the story of his vision comes just as Iola has the opportunity to take full advantage of the lots in south and southwest Iola that the city inherited when FEMA bought flood-damaged properties, razed the buildings and turned the land over to the city.
Thrive Allen County has proposed attractive soccer fields for one of the larger areas. Some have been made into community gardens. It will take Hoving-scale imagination and determination to turn the rest of our lemons into lem-onade.
Hoving had a flare for persuading businesses to sponsor a pocket park, pay for improvements and budget money or labor every year for maintenance in ex-change for an attractive sign announcing their benevolence.
There may be some “naming” opportunities in Iola, as well.
Perhaps a way to stimulate creative action would be to publish a map showing the location and size of each plot, explain what would be allowed and what forbidden and invite proposals.
Who knows, Iola may have a platoon of Thomas Hovings eager to create their own legacies.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.