The Mayor of The Porch

The Mayor. His Royness. The Guy in the Purple. Whatever you call him, if you’ve been to The Porch at 30th Street Station, you’ve probably seen Roy, the man who keeps the space running day in and day out. 

The Porch at 30th Street Station is UCD’s signature public space, offering a variety of comfortable and intimate spaces for people to lounge, unwind, and enjoy landscaped surroundings, festive lighting, creative programming, and food and beverages. When the weather is nice, upwards of 2,000 people stop by to eat lunch from rotating food trucks, hear live performances, or simply relax.    

When UCD first began reimagining the physical environment outside 30th Street Station in 2011, we realized we needed someone who could serve as an onsite concierge for the new public space—someone who could monitor the space, answer questions, give directions, and provide guidance to vendors, food trucks, and performers setting up at The Porch. After a competitive interview process, the role went to Roy Conlin, who had been working as a UCD safety ambassador for just a few months when he landed the position.

Like choosing George Washington as President or Sean Connery as James Bond, sometimes the first person in a role can turn out to be an amazing fit. “Roy really took ownership over the space,” says Alan Garry, UCD’s Director of Public Safety. Alan supervises all of the safety ambassadors, including Roy, who is officially an employee of Allied Universal. “We got very lucky that the first person we put into the role wound up being perfect for it.” Nearly six years later, Roy is still in the position.

“I love The Porch,” Roy says. “I’ve been there forever. It feels like a second home.” 

Roy serves as our eyes and ears at The Porch, which is 11 blocks from our offices at 40th and Chestnut. Multiple departments rely on him to keep the space clean and orderly, while ensuring we’re informed of what’s happening we can’t physically be on site. Each day Roy rearranges tables and chairs, wipes the furniture, cleans, and sets up The Porch’s signature umbrellas. Has a scheduled performer arrived? Roy calls and lets us know. See a picture of a daily food truck special on Twitter? Roy probably snapped it and sent it to our social media manager. 

Because Roy is technically a UCD safety ambassador, he also keeps watch on the space to make sure visitors to The Porch – from local employees on their lunch break, to travelers passing through, to members of the public seeking a place to escape the bustle of the city -  feel safe.  

“One of the most important jobs Roy does is to situate the food trucks each day,” says Margaret Starke, our event planner. “Monday through Friday we have lunch food trucks from 11:30-2:30, and Roy does an expert job navigating the large trucks onto the site so they can set up for lunch service.”

“We used to have a nice, orderly system with just a couple planters and chairs,” says Nate Hommel, our Director of Planning and Design. “But after our 2015 refreshment of the space, we added decking, trees, swings, picnic tables, and more really complicated things, and that forces the trucks to do wild movements to get into the vending space. Roy has never complained—he just does it.” 

Roy is also integral to the data collection that informs many of our design decisions. Every day Roy conducts pedestrian counts to track things like average hourly users at The Porch, gender breakdowns, seating decisions, and more. This information – which is stored on a tablet and then uploaded back at our office –  informs our understanding of how users interact with the space. Nate is routinely blown away by Roy’s meticulous data collection, and the accuracy in his counts. 

Roy has become a jack of all trades. His position has evolved from a security presence to with a variety of responsibilities—he’s part safety ambassador, part hospitality representative, part cleaning crew, and even a budding horticulturist. “He knows if a leaf is curling the wrong way and will call to make sure it’s okay to cut it,” Nate says. “If he ever were to leave, we’d need at least two people to replace him.”

“What makes Roy so good at his job is his attention to detail,” says Margaret, referring to all the tasks he manages to keep the site clean and vibrant “Roy always has UCD’s best interests at heart. He wants to make sure what’s happening at The Porch is representative of what a UCD public space should look like.” Performers, food trucks, sponsors and vendors are given the assistance they need to get onto and off the space, and he takes care of any of needs they may have. 

Roy has a background in customer service dating back to his days as a manager of a Hollywood Video. “I like interacting with all types of people,” Roy says. “The Porch is a good place to be—it brings a lot of people together that you might not expect to be in the same place at the same time. Different cultures, different types of people. You don’t usually see people sitting in groups—people like to sit in separate areas, but The Porch brings them together, even people who don’t know each other.”

“Roy’s pride in his area of responsibility really sets him apart,” Alan adds. “He constantly goes above and beyond what we ask him to do. He knows the appearance of the space is a reflection of himself, and also of the entire organization. He takes that very seriously.”

“We’re increasingly realizing that the most important thing that a public space can be is welcoming,” says Nate. “We’re trying to reintroduce the idea of public space to people, to tell people ‘you can sit here, swing on a swing, laugh with your friends, and you don’t have to spend any money.’ Having someone there to let people know that that’s okay is really important. The vendors, the food trucks, the performers, the tourists, the people coming for lunch, they all feel welcomed by Roy.”

Roy is known, and appreciated, by nearly everyone who regularly visits The Porch. “There are people who come out for lunch, people who walk through who know me because I’ve been there so long, they’ll say hi and start a conversation before they’re on their way home or wherever they’re going. It’s kind of like having one big family—once you get to know a lot of people, it’s like having a bunch of brothers and sisters.” 

Need further convincing of Roy’s dedication to The Porch? When Roy got married in 2016, there was only one place he considered for the wedding.

See The Porch and visit Roy just outside the southern section of 30th Street Station.