Easy Street Park
Easy Street Park transforms an inaccessible void on the Nantucket waterfront into a rare pocket of respite along the densely developed harbor edge. Designed for the Nantucket Islands Land Bank, Easy Street Park is a small piece of a 35-year effort to ensure that nearly half of the island remains undeveloped. The site consolidates two oddly shaped waterfront parcels steps away from where the main ferry terminal feeds into the downtown commercial district. At barely a quarter acre, the park relieves pedestrian congestion at this high-traffic junction and restores access to uninterrupted views of the Easy Street basin.
Easy Street Park is also an essential piece of flood infrastructure. A rebuilt bulkhead, expanded boardwalk, and a sand drainage layer beneath permeable decking relieves the stressed municipal stormwater system and mitigates saltwater inundation during flood events.
The park is divided into “harbor” and “town” edges, with an expanded boardwalk on the harbor side and a red brick sidewalk on the street side. Pulling in the existing brick acknowledges the historical importance of this ubiquitous paving material in Nantucket, while eliminating a visible edge between park and right of way makes the small space feel larger.
Noted for their hardiness and success in similar environments around Nantucket, thornless honey locusts were the obvious choice to restore a shade tree canopy to the water’s edge. Although they are clustered on the landward side, the orientation of the site affords afternoon shade on the treeless boardwalk. The “locust veil” doubles as street tree planting, adding robust canopy to a streetscape that typically only allows constrained planting pits.
Flowering shrubs, like dwarf form chokeberry and summersweet are kept low to preserve views to the water, while a dense hedgerow of pasture rose, bayberry and Chinese juniper form a screen to the sole adjacent property. In winter, the coppery switchgrass, patches of evergreen inkberry holly, and twisting beach plum branches call to mind the vast sandplain grasslands and heath of the island’s interior.