The Pocket Park in the Town of Norwood has received additional beautification this year, and some are saying the space is more important than ever. With limited seating for food businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pocket Park has become a place where locals, and also tourists, have gone to enjoy a meal or conversation while social distancing outdoors.

Leila Seraphin, a local community leader, is especially pleased with the Pocket Park. She said Gretchen Wells is to thank for a good part of what the space has become.

“She and Mary Olson established the park and just did it,” she said. “Gretchen has definitely gone above and beyond. In May, the chairs and awnings went up. She was behind it.”

Five years ago, Wells and Olson planted the flowers, trees and shrubs in the Pocket Park. Their vision was one row of parking with the rest of the space consisting of plants. Since then, the park has flourished and also a raw water tap was established there for irrigation.

Wells and Olson have volunteered their time over the years to maintain the gardening.

Now the dining space and awnings are available for the public, too.

“It’s a really positive thing during COVID,” Seraphin said. “These types of things should be highlighted. They have a ripple effect, especially in a community of this size.”

Not long ago, Seraphin, along with Liza Tanguay and the Wide Sky Arts Collective, also applied for a grant to establish a kiosk in the park. They wanted a community bulletin board that could be used for publicizing events or other information.

“I’d still love to see the town commit long-term to a gazebo or a community bulletin board,” Seraphin said.

She added that Tanguay has been instrumental in giving her time to keep the space in front of the post office maintained — something she as a Norwood resident appreciates.

Wells said the Town of Norwood did pay for the park’s tables and awnings, along with the plants there. She also said it’s been her favorite project to be involved with.

“I love the Pocket Park,” she said. “Mary Olson was amazing. She knew just what to plant.”

Seraphin, who is currently working on an advanced massage certificate in the Austin, Texas area for the next few months, said she’s been on the phone with friends who have called her from the tables at the park. She said before she left town she also used the space, and saw other community members and visitors enjoying themselves in the new park while enjoying food from Thorneycroft Kitchen and Bakery or the Divide Restaurant.

“It’s made a huge positive impact for people to be able to socialize during this time,” she said. “And, I’d love to see Gretchen be honored for her work in the community. It’s volunteer time. She has such a positive influence on the town. She does a lot of extra work. And Liza Tanguay. And Mary and Doug Olson, who contributed a lot to this community. We miss them a lot.”