from The Essential Paradise, doc. 3.81.

The stairway park is a form of pedestrian pathway, common in the British Paradise Islands, that is predominantly steps, ascending a section of public land too steep for an inclined pavement. Edit

Concept Edit

The stairway park is found mainly in urbanised areas in the BPI, typically between blocks of residential, commercial or mixed-use development.

The first stairway park in Paradise to be specifically designed and constructed was in Governor's Harbour, Morning Island, between Hole Road and Water Street. Today it is part of Stirrup Park, where a new pedestrian footbridge further connects the older, built-up section of the city with the Viceroy Park waterfront resort and retail area.

Design and construction Edit

The steep, often rugged terrain of the territory's principal islands posed obstacles to inland development. In many cases, members of Territorial Parliament, supported by many territorial citizens, criticised plans to extend residential and business zones further into the interior, predicating opposition on the difficulties of building on such steep and densely-wooded areas as well as negative effects on the natural environment. The redevelopment codes, a series of measures passed in the late 1980s, successfully deterred or restricted potentially damaging overdevelopment in the territory.

The concept of the stairway park was promoted by Sir Paul Cavaliere in the 1980s as a means to encourage pedestrian traffic as an alternative to extending public transportation service or increasing dependence on private motor vehicles. Though many Paradisian parks contain footways that must include steps, the stairway park is much smaller (often less than 18 m [60 ft] wide), more deliberately landscaped, and more urban, often endowed with reflecting pools, waterfalls, roofed rest stops with benches, and ample lighting for after-dark use. Most follow a set of parameters meant to make ascents and descents easier, such as one stipulating that no single flight of steps should go more than 15 risers. Wherever possible, right-angled and other turns in the course of the path prevent an undesirable linear look to the park.

Most communities try to take advantage of stairway parks by maintaining appealing landscape, planting shrubs and flowers, and decorating the pavement and retaining walls with artwork, sculpture and statuary, and notices of points of interest.

Typically, bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, and other wheeled uses are prohibited. In some cases use of baby prams is permitted; but in general a stairway park precludes such use by design.

Debate over handicapped access Edit

One of the biggest criticisms of stairway parks is that most do not allow for transit by the less-agile, such as those in wheelchairs, using crutches or wheeling children in strollers. In most cases, stairway parks without facilities for the handicapped are in locations too small to allow for ramps and inclined pavements to meet legal zoning requirements (typically 1:12). The Hon Roger H Lewis, Territorial Assistant Minister of Health & Welfare, has asserted that the typical Paradisian stairway park tends to be in steeply-inclined land where nominal handicapped access would mean a much longer trip over numerous switchbacks, representing obstacles that would defeat the purpose of serving wheelchair and crutch users. 'You have a person who is not able to get about very easily,' says Mr Lewis, 'and to save him the fare of a taxi you will construct a series of ramps taking him half a k' or more out of his way. In what way does that make sense?'

Other opponents to extending urban footways in order to enable handicapped access include land-conservation groups, who fear that building the gentlyinclined footways needed for adequate wheelchair and walker access would require too much already-precious land. 'No-one is complaining about taking a taxi for important commuting,' says Curtis Huddleston, Director of Transport for Eden Island. 'The question of unrestricted access is one of recreational hiking and sport. It's a matter of carving up all this pristine land for the sake of a few people who want to amble up the hillside with strollers.'

Not much furore has come from Paradisian residents. George Ray, a spokesperson for Paradise Islanders' Right To Access (PIRTA), is satisfied that the territorial government has provided numerous opportunities for developing easily-access facilities throughout the territory. One successful scheme has been the construction of chair-platform lifts in King's Bay, Caravelle Island, and in Governor's Harbour, Morning Island, two incorporated communities that have both active, closely-spaced populations, including significant proportions of aged and pensioner belongers, and exceptionally steep hillsides within the urban core. Another alternative has been a Paradise Transport service in Morning and Eden Islands using wheelchair-ready vans and minibuses, stopping at each end of several stairway parks where regular scheduled buses do not have stops.

Mr Ray of PIRTA admits that much of the pressure to provide handicapped access between blocks in a steeply-inclined urbanised area in Paradise is coming from off-island interests, predominantly tourists. 'If you leave the tourists' demands out of it,' said King's Bay TP Delegate Rachel Haynes, 'and especially if you consider that any improvements must come from the typical Paradisian's tax burden, it's really not such a hot issue at all.'

Examples from the stories Edit

Some of the more well-known stairway parks include

  • Lion Hill Mews, St Kitts, Caravelle I.
  • Narthex Park and Glebe Park, King's Bay, Caravelle I.
  • MacGruder Park and Surfside Arcade (upper end), Surfside, Eden I.
  • Burggarten Park, Vienna, Eden I.
  • Overhill Township Park, The Low Coast, Morning I.
  • Nessus Creek Park and The Ridge, Mirror Beach, Sugar I.

The Mall in New London borough is effective a long, wide, well-appointed stairway park, as the elevation change over those four long blocks is over 20 metres.

Appearances in the stories Edit

The stairway park above Surfside Arcade is frequently used by characters in the Janine Of Paradise arc, especially by Janine who suffers the unwelcome attentions of an admiring teenaged boy whilst she makes her way to visit Ginnie Petter, who lives in the second turn of Long Shore Road. After participating in the Surfside Splash, early in the morning of 1 January 2001, Ginnie and Janine hike the same way and draw the same sort of attention (though perhaps more so because of the girls' being naked).

In the Kissing Cousins arc, Anthony Flagg walks to and from work at the emporium in The March via the steep stairway park parallel to the tumbling Nessus Creek. Apparently the steep way, with many steps, accounts for his 20-minute commute, though a straight-line distance between the shop and his home is barely 60 metres. More than once he and either Carissa or Melissa steal a few moments' intimacy along the way, as the park includes many 180-degree turns from which the lower or upper way is not entirely visible.

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