(Third in a series of three)
- Make the square “performance-enabled”. Small orchestras have performed for free in Washington’s public spaces. The square could encourage this by pre-installing a sound system for the park. The sound system should be used only for these occasional performances, not to “enhance the ambiance” with contrived white noise; urban spaces provide their own endless soundtrack.
- Provide a space for outdoor, interactive art. College Park benefits from a young, energetic population. The square could serve as a platform for the occasional outdoor art exhibit, thus bringing both variety and intrigue to the city. For three weeks in February 2005, New York artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude displayed “The Gates” (above) in Central Park to much acclaim, fanfare, and mystery.
- Maintain the square with a Business Improvement District. Many cities employ these quasi-governmental organizations to maintain sidewalks, sweep streets, and even plant flowers. The ideal square is self-sustaining, with commercial lessees paying a fee to support the maintenance not only of the square but of the sidewalks as well.
Mandate public ownership. Public spaces, by definition, are open the public and are not privately owned. Whereas a private mall has the right to limit access, ban political expression, and constrain artistic exercises, public spaces are subject to the laws of free expression that democracies enjoy. It is absolutely paramount that the University reserve all future East Campus public spaces under its own jurisdiction. The construction of the square should be the responsibility of the selected developer, but constructing the square should not entitle any private entity to its ownership.