PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Parking is at a premium in Maine's largest city, with many commuters paying for spots in lots and visitors pumping meters full of change. But on Friday, just for one day, PARKing Day, several of the spaces on the city's streets became elaborate parks complete with books, benches and even bicycle powered blenders.
"The idea originally was just sort of to encourage people to think about how we use our public space," explained Sarah Schindler, a law professor who encouraged the city to try the experiment of letting businesses and people occupy a parking spot for a day.
"If we look at the street, the streets are our public spaces, our tax dollars fund them, and so much of the space on the street is occupied by storage for cars," she added. "When we think about what we want from our cities and what we want from our public spaces, to me what is important about it is interaction. Interaction between the public and the street scape, between the businesses and the people on the street, and so by taking over some of these spaces that are normally used by cars, and activating them with people and activities and life, I think we can foster a much more creative atmosphere in the city."
While drivers may have had a harder time finding a place to park, the miniature parks created all kinds of conversation and prompted double-takes from people passing by.
A space in front of the VIA Agency's offices on Congress Street was set-up as an outdoor art and copy garden.
"We are an ad agency and we specialize in art and copy and we wanted to bring that to the people," stated Stephen Davis, a senior copywriter with VIA. "We like being outside and showing people what we do."
"Portland has some great public spaces, and this is just another one, at least for one day," he added.
While the event may have created less parking, the city didn't lose out on revenue as participants paid the $15 the meter could have made if cars occupied the space for the day.
"We are paying for a metered space, so don't worry taxpayers, we are footing the bill," exclaimed Davis.
This is the second year the city of Portland has held a PARKing Day celebration.