What is a Pocket Park?

In many urban communities, residents enjoy being in the middle of it all but on occasion, open green space is important too– especially for those with kids and pets. Throughout the three phases of Gray’s Station, residents and users will discover what urban architects call “pocket parks.”

Pocket parks are small in size but huge in impact. These small oases are generally tucked in among urban neighborhoods or downtown settings where grass and open space, in general, is more difficult to come by. These are used for play areas, lunch breaks, educational settings and even host to small events like birthdays or family gatherings.

But the biggest perk of a pocket park is that you can still find the peace, quiet and a little wiggle room in the midst of your beloved – but busy – city.

Historically, pocket parks were introduced to the United States in the early 1950’s shortly after WWII. They were used in small areas, within the cities, that needed restoration when budget and/or labor shortages were not conducive to creating larger infrastructure. These small parks were overnight favorites and became wildly popular throughout major cities and smaller towns.

Beginning in Phase 2 and continuing into Phase 3, Gray’s Station will start placing pocket parks throughout the neighborhood. These areas will have funky bench seating, waste stations, water fountains and in some cases, play areas. The urban architects and master planners have also specially designed rolling mounds and raised beds into the landscaping along sidewalks, bike trails and in some of the pocket parks as well. These natural play areas will be a fun perk for kids living in the neighborhood.

Gray’s Station’s bike-friendly lanes and bike trails will lead to and through many of the parks, including the wetland basin system to the south of Gray’s Station. This area is being redesigned by the City of Des Moines and will be used as a natural water filtration system, filled with natural grasses, plants and trails. The bike trail and wetland system are expected to be finished by late-summer 2019.