|Old City Hall with Parking Meters on Chemeketa, 1959|
Salem Library Historic Photos
We don't have good historical data on on-street parking,
surface lots, and downtown prosperity.
It would be too much to say the disappearance of meters
is directly linked to the persistence of a surface lot here,
but it's an interesting coincidence.
This is all backwards! Criticism should start with a look to the future in the 21st century, and put the foundational experience of walking at the center. (We have to look back to look forward!) Even walking to the car is a nearly universal experience - every trip starts and ends with a walk.
The Carousel should be asking - what can we do to give people choices? To make it easier to choose not to drive? To make it easy for people to walk, bike, or take transit to the Carousel and to the Park? Or to park downtown and walk to the Carousel? How can we more efficiently use existing parking and serve a greater number of people? And for those who do need to drive from far away or with someone disabled, or with a large family - how can the experience of walking after you get out of the car be better?
|Skinny streets actually calm traffic!|
But people walking seems to be beside the point...
|Just off the playground, the wall of buildings looms over the park.|
These edges should be the center of analysis and critique!
(still from Pringle Square Salem video)
At Council, Delay; with Prospects for More Delay
All kinds of interesting developments with the Boise Project. Current staff recommendation for Monday's City Council is to continue the hearing and to continue to accept written testimony to September 23rd. (The staff report is long and contains many emails and even some hand-written letters.)
Meanwhile, in an online article posted Friday, and in print Saturday, the Statesman confirms the complexity of a 6(f) conversion and adds evidence to Brian Hines' claim that it would be as fast or faster for the City and developer to apply for a new at-grade crossing - though there remains much uncertainty about how readily a new one would actually be approved. Talk about the ease of a new at-grade crossing remains all too theoretical at the moment.
So these likely elements of delay may converge and contribute to the abandonment of the Park Parcel apartment proposal, an outcome that seems to be desired by many.
And indeed, it may be that the highest and best use of that parcel might be as park land, as an addition to Riverfront park.
Still, better design can solve a lot of problems, and the Apartments-or-Park antithesis is far too crude and may make us miss a design solution of compromise and win-win-win.
At the same time, abandoning the west side development and rushing Pringle Square Salem to redevelop the east side of the tracks may well saddle Salem with an inferior development, one that a more leisurely process could have remedied and improved.
It all comes down to parking, you see - the curse, of parking.
Questions Remain at the South Block - Haste will not Fix Them!
The video presented by the developers at Council (or a revised version of it) has been posted to the developer's own Pringle Square Salem site and it is very interesting!
But it is not certain how accurate it really is - or to say how "representative" or "conceptual" it is. And it may not be fair to require that it show every detail in absolute fidelity to the latest plans. On the other hand, if you wondered about some details, few would probably think it out-of-hand.
|Most of the street level is actually a parking garage|
See those people walking on the left? They're looking not at storefronts,
but at concrete, at the dusty guts of a parking garage.
(Think about walking the perimeter of the Marion Parkade)
|The streel-level on the Boise shell (right side) is still a blank wall|
The whole at street-level is not interesting, detailed, or inviting. It's a little bunker-like.
In fact, it's a dismal first floor! In no small part caused by our mania for free parking and commitment to the Moses-Eisenhower School of Mid-Century Autoism.
|Here it is from the other side - all the detailing is on the residences|
and it's not clear there's even a walkway from Commercial Street
Park Parcel Problems aren't Just About Car Access
Back to the Park Parcel, again, the biggest problem with the Carousel group and their critique is that it's all about car parking and cars queuing up for the traffic light. It's that same School of Autoism!
A critique of the development should start with the experience of walking and then scale up. Movement by foot should be the primary analytical framework!
So here we go with more video stills.
|In the video, the fence between the park and building is gone|
But not much setback from the park!
The plans had shown a fence between the park and apartment buildings, and it was on this basis that I and others had found it a "gated enclave." Here in the video the fence is gone! Reality or appearance?
The buildings also loom over the pathway. In a more public process, we might be able to debate something like a couple of narrow towers, with more ground floor commercial space, pulling the buildings back from the park, and using lower buildings and gaps (for sightlines!) to step up to the narrow mid-rise towers. Some height here would allow for a smaller footprint at the ground and allow the buildings and Park edges to breathe more.
Who knows if that would fly in Salem, though. But at least we could talk about stuff like that.
|But here's one of the gates|
|Near the acid ball there's a courtyard that appears to be open to park|
(that's some foreshortening with the acid ball, though!)
|But here's the fence along the path by Pringle Creek (left)|
They do show parking on the slough parcel - and even though this is in apparently the 100-year flood plain, parking is an excellent use for land in the flood plain!
In fact, CB|Two who is also handing the Blind School parcel, shows parking at the proposed Blind School redevelopment in the 100 year flood plain.
In conversation around the Minto bridge, the City has been insistent that flooding will hardly impact bridge use. This is probably an area that deserves more study. I believe the City understates the impact of temporary high water on the Bridge and Minto Park. On the other hand, some occasional times when the Slough Parcel is not usable doesn't totally disqualify it for access to the Park Parcel. There's too much all-or-nothing thinking going on here!
(The City has tons of parking garage capacity - couldn't, for example, an arrangement be worked out to relocate car parking to a garage during a flood?
For more on the park block with the apartments, see here, here, here, and here.)
Nursing Home a Union Issue?
As a footnote, it is interesting to see that SEIU local 503 has sent out emails requesting action. This one was shared by a reader:
Corporate interests are trying to push through a boondoggle in Salem. The Pringle Square development is proposing to build residential apartment units and a nursing home facility, operated by the anti-worker Marquis Companies, at the former Boise Cascade mill site in downtown Salem. Last week the City Council approved a 10-year tax abatement for the development, keeping funds out of our classrooms.(For more on the nursing home facility, though not on labor issues, see here, here, here, and here.)
The poorly planned project will face another important vote next week. Will you let your City Councilor know that you value the needs of the community over tax breaks for corporate interests?...
Over 10,000 SEIU members live and work in Salem, this is our community and what happens here affects our jobs, our neighborhoods, and our families. We are standing against this new development plan because it provides tax breaks to wealthy corporate interests that directly decreases funds for schools and public services, all the while providing primarily low-wage non-union jobs and housing vulnerable community members on unhealthy industrial grounds.
Next Monday, the City Council will discuss the company's request to turn a public park road into a private access road. The current proposal cuts through a beloved children's area and carousel park, and complicates emergency transportation in the area....
The Pringle Square development is bad planning, anti-worker, and takes tax revenue away from our schools and public services.
At this point criticism has mostly settled into repeating the same points. We're all just talking past each other. It will be interesting to see if more creative design solutions emerge and are able to cut through the entrenched positions.
By focusing too narrowly on parking, we just push the pieces around on the site plan, and don't fundamentally work to improve the whole project. It may be that people feel that talking about parking and car access is the only leverage for improving the project remaining at this point - and that would be a failure in our City processes. Even so, insufficient attention is being given to ways this is project in total is too far from being a good one.
For all notes tagged Boise Redevelopment, see here.