Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Minto Master Plan Meeting Tonight

The last meeting on the Minto Brown Island Master Plan project is tonight, and they'll be looking at three distinct concept plans for the park.

One focuses on access (detail below), another on floodplain restoration, and a third on agriculture.

Minto proposal - Alternate 1 "Enhanced Access"
Even the one on "access" didn't seem to have that much on circulation. It adds a few new elevated boardwalks across swampy and low areas, some new trails, and a bridge - but mostly small changes concerning access to park features - boardwalks and boat launches and stuff like that - but not really on travel and circulation.

From the standpoint of "how do you get there?" and "how do you move around once you're there?" at least from here, none of the alternatives were clearly better than the others.

Instead, the alternatives seemed oriented around the question of, "once you're here, what do you want to see and do?"

And to that question you might have clear preferences over, for example, more natural conditions or more agricultural cultivation.

The meeting is today, Tuesday the 21st, at 7pm in Pringle Community Hall, 606 Church Street SE.

There is also a survey, which requires viewing the concept maps for the three alternatives first.

The prospect of investment at Minto contrasts with the state of investment in a lot of our other parks.

While out on an urban ramble over the weekend, we found a new park.  Maybe you know all about it, but I suspect it's essentially neighborhood secret lore. The City has very little published on it, and the even the new Parks Master Plan doesn't say much.

The entry off Chapman Hill Road
Chandler Nature Park is an undeveloped plot of land in a small ravine along Glen Creek.

The entry off Ptarmigan with a formal sign
There's a path through it connecting to Chapman Hill Road and Ptarmigan Street. But the path is not very well maintained and ivy is overtaking a lot of the native growth and understory.
Entries off Ptarmigan Street and Chapman Hill Road
I don't know the origin of the park. Maybe the ravine and topography here wasn't buildable. There's quite a cluster of cul-de-sacs abutting the park, and in two-dimensions it's easy to draw lines connecting them. The park is in fact a barrier to travel of all kinds.

Ptarmigan here is utterly car-dependent
In a nutshell, this is the problem of West Salem. Walking to nearly any non-residential destination is a real urban hike, not a short stroll. The street grid is not well connected, and the zoning means all commercial destinations are on Wallace and Edgewater, a distance that makes trips to them effectively dependent on a car.

Additionally, sidewalks are not consistent. Glen Creek and Orchard Heights don't always have sidewalks on both sides of the street, and sidewalks on the local streets are a patchwork. Parkway in particular lacks sidewalks and is an important connector. We saw people working in their yards and on their cars, but not other people out walking in the neighborhood.

Nearby parks
Immediately south and southeast of Chandler Park are two other undeveloped parks, the unnamed "Sather Property" and Glen Creek Park. Since there are few connecting streets, they require lots of meandering, out-of-direction travel to reach!

But they will also need investment at some point. In chapter 7 of the the new Master Plan, none of these appear to rank as "tier 1" priorities. So for the moment I guess they will remain fallow and are "banked" for some future need. (It is interesting how we are more willing to bank land than bank buildings for future needs.)

Proposed park at 23rd and D
As folks consider the prospect of creating a new park at 23rd and D Street at the State Hospital north campus, maybe in Parks too we need to consider a "fix it first" strategy. Others who are more familiar with Parks will be able to say more accurately, but it looks like Parks also has a deferred maintenance problem of some magnitude.

Parks and proposed parks are also not distributed evenly across the city, and it may be that there are important considerations of equity. The area in West Salem around Chandler Park appears relatively well-served geographically by parks. (Though again, because of the disconnected street system and hills, effectively they are harder to reach!) The area near the State Hospital is less well served geographically by parks - though the street grid is better connected and parks are easier to reach here.

Parks is a whole 'nother topic, but the allure of "shiny and new" is strong here also, and we don't think enough about maintenance and about how the street system serves or fails to serve park connectivity.

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