Dumpster driving: One city’s junk becomes another city’s mobile park
GRAHAM — The City of Graham is celebrating a Dumpster.
Recreation and Parks Director Brian Faucette gathered a crowd at Alamance Arts on Tuesday, Nov. 27, to cut the ribbon on the city’s new mobile parklet — an upcycled container from Bakers Waste Equipment Inc. that includes seating, tables and a stand-up bar.
Parklets are “public seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces,” usually installed — either temporarily or permanently — in busy downtowns that need more gathering space.
This one’s moveable, meaning it will serve all of Alamance County.
“This was a crazy idea floating around in my head,” Park Supervisor Tel Fehlhafer told the group of about 20. Faucette “and I talked about a parklet for probably two years, but the problem was we wanted it to be mobile. I was driving through Burlington, of all places, picking up my son from daycare, and I saw a Dumpster sitting in a parking spot, and I said, ‘There is our mobile parklet.’ It just doesn’t need to be full of trash.”
That was a year and a half — and a few challenges — ago.
Now, the outside-the-box box is a reality, giving old materials a second chance at life.
The tabletops are made from old manhole covers, and the bar is made from a beam saved from the former Graham restaurant Carver’s on Elm, which burned down in 2014. A coat of blue paint gives the container a fresh look, and Faucette expects they’ll add some planters once it warms up to give it a little more color.
Getting to this point was a community effort.
Alamance Community College welding students completed a lot of the early work, Beechwood Metalworks finished it out, Glen Raven provided the umbrellas, and the $8,000 grant that made the entire project possible was provided by Impact Alamance and the Community Innovation Fund.
“When I was driving up, I thought, ‘Who knew a Dumpster could be so cool?’” Impact Alamance President Tracey Grayzer joked.
“This is actually designed to fit in parking spaces, so it can extend the sidewalk of a community so that when you’re walking, folks have a place to sit down and to gather, so it’s bringing community together,” she said. “It’s making our downtown communities more inviting and more walkable, and that’s what this is all about: to enhance those spaces and to create a better quality of life for our communities.”
For now, the parklet is parked at 213 S. Main St. to provide extra seating to patrons enjoying Graham’s outdoor ice rink, but Faucette said they’ll open an application process in the spring and begin moving the parklet around the county.
“I hope the community embraces it and enjoys it as much as we have putting it together, … and that all of the surrounding municipalities and public and private folks will use it and bring people together because, again, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Reporter Jessica Williams can be reached at email@example.com or at 336-506-3046. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicawtn.