Some time ago I started writing a post about the park/public plaza in Congress Square. It is at the intersection of Congress and High Streets, right next to the Eastland hotel. Here's a map:
Not long after I began writing a post about some ideas for improving the park, which is somewhat under-utilized for it's prime location, a notice was posted on the city website about the creation of the Congress Square Redesign Study Group. The group's aim is to "...advise and guide the design and engineering process for the assessment of the best use and design of Congress Square Park." The group has only met once, back in May, and doesn't appear to have any future meetings scheduled. I was not able to attend the group's inaugural meeting due to time constraints. I don't see any minutes of exactly what was discussed at the meeting, but there is a link to a presentation on the group's website that has some really interesting photographs showing the history of the square. Long story short, the square was home to various residential and commercial buildings until the 1980's when the current plaza design was installed (along with very positive improvements to the rest of Congress Square). Since it's creation, however, it seems that the plaza has struggled to create a real identity and usefulness and is often a place where homeless individuals congregate to ask for change. Every now and then a special event utilizes the space (such as the Tower of Song festival or the Sidewalk Art Festival, but the park is usually inactive.
So since there is a group already looking at ways to improve the park I decided not to dedicate a whole post to my thoughts on the matter, until I was passing by the other day and noticed that the concrete planting pots along Congress Street had been recently retrofitted with people-deterrents. As you can see in this photo, it appears that it would be uncomfortable to sit on these, but it is still possible:
There is a sunken plaza to the left of this photo with some steps suitable for sitting on and two or three (at the most) old benches in the middle of the park but I would think that if we are not allowing people to sit on these planters then perhaps a few more benches could be added in this area. As I said, I didn't get the chance to attend the redesign group's meeting and am not able to tell you what improvements they thought of, but I do hope that there are some more useful improvements planned other than attempting to keep people from sitting down for a bit.