The Constitution of a City Park

The Constitution of a City Park

City parks can be defined as “naturalistic areas in urban environments”. They are also known as urban parks, metropolitan parks, public parks, public open spaces, or municipal gardens. The practice of preserving specific areas in overcrowded cities is not new and the benefits of having them are ever more important in 2024. Important benefits of having city parks include them providing a place for physical activity, fresh air, a mental health boost, a place for kids to be outside, and a place that becomes the centre of a community. Parks are where people engage, have picnics, play, run, listen to music, eat, slow down after a long day, and develop a sense of community – when parks are used it means that the community is safer for everyone. You might call those benefits the constitution of a park. The structure, appearance, location, amenities, and name of a city park are also parts of its embodiment. However, city parks need maintenance and upkeep. Though the appearance may be upgraded and changed, its constitution remains intact if it fulfils the main purpose of serving its community. Such is the case of Constitution Park located at the intersection of Cemetery Road and Johnson Street in the Old Capital. For  thirty-six (36) years, this park has served its community.  Its last upgrade was in 2006, but now new benefits have been added.

On February 1st, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) hosted a small inaugural ceremony to officially open the newly renovated Constitution Park. The ceremony was attended by those from the BTB family and the Belize City Council, who played key roles in accomplishing the renovations, while the press and others were invited to bear witness to the park’s new look. Looking at the changes, the park and its name seem to merge even closer. The park can be entered or exited from each corner of its nearly perfect rectangular shape. What stands out are the mini Greek-looking Doric-like columns. Like mini open temples, four grey columns support wooden beams that add an additional Mediterranean look. There are seven temples in all with their own separate curved benches and concrete foundations. There are picnic tables, kids’ see-saws, a vendor booth, and a small stage for artistic performances. There are solar powered street lamps, side-walks, a secured fence, and free Wi-Fi access. During the inaugural ceremony, Project Inebesei played Garifuna favourites from the late Andy Palacio and Paul Nabor. City residents sat around and chimed in to cheer on the ceremonies. By all measures and benefits, Constitution Park now boasts the structure, appearance, amenities, and nature of a public open space, that will add recreational, health, and civic benefits to its community.

Towards the back of the small stage at the park is a monument. The monument is a large open book with an inscription of a quote from Belize’s founding father George Cadle Price. Not let this article spoil it, visit the park yourself to read what it says. What the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Anthony Mahler, did say at the ceremony is that “Belize City is the heartbeat of this nation”, while Mayor Bernard Wagner encouraged that “art is non-partisan”. A park can be many things for a community. With time, perhaps the park will be used to inspire and showcase all varieties of art from Belizean painters, musicians, poets, story tellers, and even would be philosophers. The renovations to Constitution Park was one project within a larger plan to beautify all of Belize City. From now and hopefully for years to come, this city park constitutes safety, recreation, and community.

Chat again later.

Jasmine Anderson

For the Belize Tourism Board