GARY | Neighborhoods Inc. unveiled its latest micro-park Aug. 24 at 8123 Oak Ave. in Gary's Miller Beach neighborhood, according to a news release from the organization.
The Please, Have a Seat! program, funded through grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Fund of the Legacy Foundation, Catholic Charities and NIPSCO, is the second of its kind in the Calumet Region and possibly the U.S. to strategically place multiple, permanent, park-style benches on private property to encourage public use.
The goal of Please, Have A Seat! is to create and promote neighborhood networks by encouraging community cohesiveness. This project creates a "micro-park" or small gathering place in homeowners' front yards.
The program began last year in East Chicago's north side and south side neighborhoods beginning with the pouring of a 6-foot by 5-foot, stamped concrete pad upon which a bench rests. A decorative planter sits on concrete to the right of the bench to add seasonal flair. The Miller benches are made completely of wood and sit on a small deck.
There are six benches currently up and available for use throughout the Miller Beach area, with plans to install approximately five to six more there. Other benches in Miller are at 6735 Hemlock Ave., 6235 Hemlock Ave., 7413 Locust St., 7401 Locust St. and 7201 Maple St.
The bench program was so successful in its pilot in East Chicago last year that Highland, Hammond and Miller will see the project come to their areas this summer along with a second phase in East Chicago.