Monday, June 23, 2008

DeUrbanization-The Bulldoze Effect- Part 2 Solutions

In the first part of the series we identified the “issues’ regarding de-urbanization caused by needless demolition of properties that should have been saved. The issue becomes how to address the “gaps” left by demolition. We will talk about new infill construction in an upcoming part of the series but today Id like to talk about the town square approach or “thumbnail” park. This approach would work well in areas like Dayton Street Historic.

In densely populated urban areas green space is highly desired, a courtyard at the front of a home or a side yard, for example. Vacant lots especially if they are adjacent can be an excellent opportunity for a “thumbnail” park. These Urban parks provide an opportunity to create common spaces. Often these “local parks” may be under the administered by a neighborhood group or non-profit set up. Typically the city would donate the land and local residents would be responsible for fundraising efforts to obtain funding for items, say a fountain or park benches. The city may contribute to the project by providing key infrastructure say Park lighting for example. Residents largely are responsible for the park. While the establishment of a thumbnail park may seen daunting, the reality is most locally based corporations can be tapped for small to mid-sized donations. Sometime a corporation will sponsor the creation of a park.
Often there is an argument that these spaces might foster criminal activity when in fact the opposite is true, Neighbors who helped create the park tend to “police’ it as part of a crime watch program. It affords an opportunity for local police to outreach the community say by parking near the park to do paperwork between runs and meeting the community. These parks also add considerable value to the area through increased perception that a neighborhood is now “safe” and property values will rise, ultimately of benefit to the city due to increased tax revenues and marginal homes being restored.

Photo: #1 Park in the Lockerbie neighborhood built on 2 lots of a infill condo development and dedicated as green space as part of the development plan. Photo 2: A private/public corner thumbnail park in the Old Northside. Photo 3: Fountain in the Oak Commons Park in Old northside built on the site of several homes that were bulldozed in 70 urban renewal.

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