BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN
Fred Rainaldi Jr. said putting a pocket park at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Amherst Street, next door to the old Monroe Theatre, will help transform the appearance and “vibe” of the area.
Rainaldi met with Upper Monroe neighbors this morning about the project.
The final design won’t be ready for about two weeks, Rainaldi said, but park elements that are being talked about for the 3,000 square foot space include sculpture, lighting, landscaping, bike racks, path, ornamental garden, and an electric car charging station. There could also be approximately 10 parking spaces.
Rainaldi talked about the possibility of broadcasting movies inside the park, onto the outside wall of the former theater. It would pay homage, in a way, to the building’s former life.
Rainaldi said he’s still looking for a show stopping feature for the park.
In addition to being an urban gathering space, Rainaldi said he hopes the park will be used as performance space for local bands, theater groups, and others.
“This is a passion project for our company,” he said.
Monroe Goodman Associates, of which Rainaldi is developer and manager, will own the park and be responsible for security and maintenance, Rainaldi said.
Neighbors at this morning’s meeting were generally enthusiastic about the project. One woman said the park will be a welcome boost to the culture of Monroe, which is currently dominated by bars. She works hard to keep up her property, she said, and it’s discouraging to regularly find bottles, drug paraphernalia, and other trash in her garden.
Rainaldi said he hoped the park would be finished this summer.
Plans for the Monroe Avenue-Amherst Street area have evolved from a townhouse project, to a commercial project, to the park. Rainaldi said the market would not support the townhouse project, and City Council member Elaine Spaull said there’s already a glut in the retail market there.