Today was a beautiful day, with bright sunshine and the temperature in the ’70s. So, JV, the Conservative, and I decided to stroll down to Columbus Commons to see if we could scare up lunch and check out the capital city’s newest park, now officially open.
The only lunch option at Columbus Commons was a burgers/hot dogs/fries place in one of the permanent structures at the south end of the park. There was a decent crowd there — not overwhelming, but not bad — and we had to wait for a while to place and then retrieve our order. The food was fine, and it was very pleasant to be sitting outside at one of the circular tables along with our fellow downtown Columbusites, chowing down and enjoying the view of the downtown buildings. The tables are all collected in a gravel-topped area at the south end of the park, allowing you to look north across the lawns of Columbus Commons to the center of downtown. It is a nice view.
As we ate, I noticed people coming to the park from all parts of downtown, which is a good sign. The only disappointment was that no food trucks or street food vendors were to be seen. If Columbus Commons is to be a success, alternative food choices are a must, and food trucks and food carts are the easiest way to achieve that goal. Perhaps the word will get out that potential customers are there, and that will attract the vendors.
The park looks good, although I’m still skeptical about the ability of many stretches of exposed grass to stay bright and green under the withering July and August sunshine. The landscaping is attractively done, and there were a number of people sitting on benches adjacent to the landscaped rectangular mini-gardens. Security was visible, and the one apparent panhandler who showed up hit the road when the security guy made his rounds. The attention to security was encouraging, because people need to feel safe when they frequent this park. No one is going to want to sit and eat outside if doing so exposes them to aggressive begging for money.
It looks like they’ve given thought to some unique touches to help give the place its own character. The carousel is the principal initiative in that regard — although unfortunately it was shrouded today — and they have set up a small reading area with book carts, which is interesting. They also were working on a performance area at the north end of the park, and as we left they were rolling in carts of beer for some party that seemed ready to get underway. It appears that portions of the lawn areas can be rented and roped off for functions.
It’s way too early to weigh in on whether Columbus Commons will be a success. So far, though, so good.