Central Park garden

The Vasbinder Fountain in downtown Mansfield's Central Park.

Editor's Note: This story is part of a month-long series that highlights 31 ideas included in the "Mansfield Rising" plan. The 67-page document was created by 15 local leaders after attending the South by Southwest Conference last March in Austin, Texas.

Idea 13: Increase the number of public facilities


MANSFIELD -- How can we make downtown Mansfield more inviting if there's no place to be comfortable?  

Fixtures and amenities keep a city accessible, vibrant and tidy. Facilities such as restrooms, seating, bus shelters, and bike racks are functional and provide convenience.

The lack of facilities can discourage usage of public spaces. For example, the lack of safe parking for bikes can convey the message that bikes are not welcome. Adequate facilities in turn, like bus shelters, are appreciated in inclement weather. 

Public facilities can also serve as street art. Seating makes open spaces seem more inviting. Downtown currently does not offer a vast amount of places to sit and relax outdoors. Benches offer free community space for gathering, meetings, etc. Tables and chairs welcome people to sit down and enjoy a meal. Shaded seating is a necessary amenity for weather considerations.

Prime opportunity spaces for seating are the alleys in downtown. Mansfield’s alleys have the potential to create a unique space for people to gather. Utilizing alleys in alternative ways allows additional spaces to display public art on the sides of businesses. It could also be an opportunity to create a beautiful aesthetic in an underutilized area in downtown.

The cost of these types of projects would be based on the seating and table expense, as well as any other aesthetic items used to decorate the space.

Shaded outdoor seating is critical to providing a place that is comfortable for gathering. Central Park provides a good example of taking advantage of trees to provide natural shading.

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