Loose Ends: Courthouse lawn fans make their feelings known

dollyviscardiAlthough a communitywide survey probably would not rank the courthouse lawn in Meeker as one of the top 10 places in the community, it is a public space that is cherished by most residents. At least it seems that way, with all the recent outrage over the possibility of taking it away to expand courthouse parking. Long before the courthouse or the elementary school were built, townsfolk gathered there. Fourth of July festivities were held there in the “city park.” While the concept of having a huge green lawn came later, the fact that so many of the town children remember playing on that lawn makes it even more valuable.
Even in winter, Meekerites yearn for green. While many of us love the white stuff and the activities that are possible with a lot of it (sledding, skiing, and skating), all of us seem to place a lot of value on green grass. The greener the better, so that is why there was such an outcry over the possibility of losing any of the courthouse lawn. While the recent pubic meetings about the future use of the elementary school generated a lot of interest and suggestions, the current swirling below the surface kept conversation about the courthouse lawn front and center as well. Although the possibility of expanding courthouse parking was mentioned, it didn’t seem to be an option in the minds of many.
Everyone may have their own memories of the courthouse lawn, but the most important feature of it is the comfort and familiarity it provides to residents. It became a town square of sorts over the years and even much more so once the brick clock tower and benches were erected. Oftentimes the talk of expense and upkeep drowns out the real reason for maintaining open space in a community.
It takes the thought of losing it, that brings the importance of such places to the forefront. At this point if a justice center does not stay in the downtown area, the plans for courthouse expansion are not finalized. While there may have been talk that front lawn would be destroyed to expand parking, there also was a report that underground parking might be an option (albeit expensive).
The downtown’s appeal has always included the courthouse lawn. It offers the quintessential small-town atmosphere, the type that is remembered by tourists and families and friends alike.