Artist to design inclusive space in York City

Julia Scheib

Lafayette Plaza, a space behind the Colonial Courthouse in York City now being used as a parking lot, is slated for a transformation, and local artist Ophelia Chambliss will have a hand in what it turns out looking like.


Chambliss was selected by a committee of stakeholders in the development of York's green infrastructure to create a conceptual rendering of a plan for the space "that best serves the public, accommodates all forms of transportation and makes the most of opportunities to protect the watershed," according to a news release from Downtown Inc.

A public meeting is scheduled for Jan. 28, when community members will have the opportunity to share their hopes and visions for Lafayette Plaza and other green infrastructure in the city.

Input wanted on York City's green infrastructure plan

Chambliss said she knows she wants the space to be "very inclusive, inviting and friendly," so that passersby will want to stop and have a seat. It will be a space where people are encouraged to "convene instead of just pass through," she said.

"There's a lot going on in that corner," Chambliss said, citing the Rail Trail and the fact that the old Met-Ed steam plant, a building at the corner of North Pershing Avenue and West Philadelphia Street that the York County Historical Society recently purchased, is slated to become a hub for local history.

A multicultural place: As well as teaching communication theory at Penn State Harrisburg, Chambliss provides artistic enrichment for teens at the York County Youth Development Center and gives workshops as part of Inclusive Arts, a program that aims to bring people "of all walks of life" together to make art.

The kind of art that will exist at Lafayette Plaza is also yet to be determined, she said, but Chambliss wants the space to be culturally inclusive as well as physically inviting. It will have a multicultural "visual identity," she said, and possibly freestanding structures that the public can interact with.

The first of three public meetings to discuss the city's plan for green infrastructure will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, in the first-floor atrium at engineering and architectural firm Buchart Horn, 445 W. Philadelphia St. No registration is required.

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