Volunteers used sledge hammers, powered asphalt cutters and pointed pry bars to demolish part of the parking lot of Everyday Deals on Sunday in Vancouver’s Rose Village neighborhood.
It was the first of what could be several depaving projects in the city, particularly along the Fourth Plain Boulevard corridor. The goal on Sunday was to break up what one organizer, Patti Maggiora, called a “hard scape” by replacing pavement around the lot’s perimeter with shrubs and flowers, and by adding a small courtyard at the corner of St. Johns Boulevard and Fort Vancouver Way. Trees and more greenery will be added along the edges of the parking lot in the fall.
“This is an area of Vancouver that for years has been on a steady decline,” Maggiora said, but “we’re starting to see that upward turn again.”
The project will help mitigate stormwater runoff, build pride in the neighborhood, provide tree shade in hotter months and help attract more customers to local businesses, said Maggiora’s husband, Mark Maggiora, executive director of the nonprofit Americans Building Community.
“It’s not a very inviting kind of place,” he said of the old parking lot.
He added that nearly 7,500 vehicles trips are made to the area each day, Monday through Friday.
“It catches a lot of attention,” he said.
Americans Building Community put the depaving event together with a number of partners, including Portland-based DePave, AKS Engineering, the city’s Urban Forestry program, the Vancouver Watershed Alliance, volunteers from Summit View Church, Everyday Deals and Laundry Love, which shares the Village Plaza parking lot, and the property’s owner. In addition to Everyday Deals and the laundromat, the property is home to a coffee stand and a community garden.
Mark Maggiora said the depaving project conducted Sunday will serve as an example of what could be done along Fourth Plain Boulevard during efforts to revitalize that part of the city.
“This is really a demonstration for the city and the community,” he said. “It’s all about greening it up.”
Grants covered most of the project’s expenses, and more than 100 volunteers from Summit View Church provided the labor. Many of those volunteers were middle school, high school and college students. In addition to ripping up asphalt, some volunteers weeded the community garden, preparing the planting beds for gardeners.
Volunteer Maija Tuggy of Vancouver was at the event with her husband and their four children. She helped weed the garden.
“We’re just trying to love the community in ways that are practical and helpful,” she said, adding that there have been times when she’s needed help from others. “We want to be part of the answer for people, and sometimes that means weeding someone’s yard.”
Volunteer Gavin Harris, 13, of Ridgefield said he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities before Sunday to participate in a big community service project.
“It’s pretty difficult work,” he said of prying apart asphalt. But, he added, “When you have a lot more people helping out it gets a bit more easy.”
One of those people helping was another church member Michael Storaci of Vancouver, who said he was grateful for the cool weather and sprinkles of rain because it kept him cool as he worked the stubborn pavement. One of his sons helped him depave while his wife, daughter and another son volunteered elsewhere.
He called the event a great way to get out into the community. “As a church we don’t just want to be confined to our four walls,” he said.
Rose Village Neighborhood Association chairman Jim Johnson marveled at the turnout.
“This is an inspiration to me,” said Johnson, a 30-year resident of the neighborhood. “Neighbors need to get back to helping neighbors. … More people seem to be getting it.”