Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Riverfront Park Plan Open House Tuesday the 18th

The City's published an updated concept plan for Riverfront Park, and it looks like a reasonable compromise, maybe a little dialed-back from the big ideas in the three versions we all looked at earlier this year.

So just a couple of things to note in passing.

at the south end, the new amphitheater at center #5
I was a little worried that any parking lot expansion (#12 and dashed yellow) would be way oversized, but what they have proposed looks modest and proportionate.

The path connection under the railroad and along the creek to Mirror Pond is keyed at #2, but hardly mentioned. This project needs more visibility and and a formal update from the City on the delay.

The possible bridge at #1 might be nice, but let's get the path connection first!

Off the detail clip here, keyed at #13 is an elevated boardwalk/riverwalk looking out over the slough that would be a nice feature to get closer to the water.

There are two clusters of new bathrooms, #3 and off-detail #21, that will also be nice additions.

at the north end
At the north end, at #26 they propose to locate a public bike station. It makes sense to have it near the Union Street Railroad Bridge, but since they haven't launched yet, it may also represent a smaller installation. Earlier concept maps and even earlier charettes showed more central locations.

Degrading crossing experiences is not consistent with park focus
Significantly, the plan stops at Front Street. Earlier iterations showed enhancements on State, Court, and Union Street between Front and Commercial. These may have been absorbed by the Downtown Sidewalk Study. More likely they're also being diminished, since "increasing pedestrian delays" is part of the Congestion Task Force recommendations. At the very least, there is tension between the "gateway" enhancements into the park and "increasing pedestrian delay" in the crosswalks immediately adjacent.

Not at all discussed on the plan map is the estimated cost and timeline for any of this. The new bathrooms should also trigger discussion not just of capital costs but of ongoing maintenance costs. New bathrooms are not very helpful if we don't have adequate janitorial and maintenance service!

The City's holding an Open House on Tuesday next week:
Come learn about the details of the proposed master plan and weight in with your comments. On September 18, City staff and the project consultants will present the draft master plan for Riverfront Park. Please join us!

Date: Tuesday, September 18th
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Location: Pringle Community Hall, 606 Church Street SE

Update, September 14th

September 14th
The paper's got an editorial today that's more concern trolling than substantive. It's awfully vague, and does not object to any of the specific items in the new proposed plan. Instead it raises the specter of the old notion to put a hotel on the land.

Here's "overdeveloped"! Salem Tomorrow 1984
Hotel tower, Convention Center, Parking Garage
Court Street axis, Riverfront Park (detail)
What these pieces seem to rely on is the sense of the park's fullness during a large event.

But they do not reckon with the park's emptiness and dullness during the winter and slack periods.

They want the park to remain an ornamental emptiness, available for their private delectation any time. Somehow the existence of other people enjoying the park is an affront or harm or something to be minimized.

There are other parks where privacy is a greater value. Riverfront Park should be lively, always!

If the editorial objected to specific features, it should have called them out and criticized them in detail. As it is, it's just hand-wavy concern trolling.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with comments on the paper's editorial.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

During the winter the open spaces at the park will be filled by the skating rink, so it will see more use as you suggest. But part of the issue with the park and developments is that under that nice looking grass is a lot of contaminated soil that can't be dug into for much else.

Sometimes people forget the history of the Riverfront Park. It was an industrial area for decades. It is heavily polluted and when there was a proposal to put a hotel or conference center there two things prevented it. One was the referendum passed by the voters that prohibit it. And second, testing revealed that the area is heavily contaminated with debris and residue from former business activities. DEQ said that the soil needed to be capped and not disturbed. That is why some of the locations for parking lots and buildings seem to be odd to some. And one of the reasons that they couldn't dig down and rework the current amphitheater area and had to move it to the south.

Anyway, a park is supposed to have large open spaces so that events can be held there more easily. I think other than more restrooms, the park is great!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

But what exactly do you object to?
Here are the proposed new buildings, scattered and small:
#3 new bathroom
#5 amphitheater
#14 carousel annex and workshop
#21 new bathroom
#23 kayak rental kiosk
#25 maintenance shed
and one parking lot extention at #12

So two questions for you:
1) How do any of these impede the "large open spaces"?
2) For which parking lots and buildings do the locations seem odd because of contaminated soil?

Susann Kaltwasser said...

To clarify, I am not opposed to these small additions except maybe the amphitheater ...but al teast they moved it off to the side so it is better there. What I was commenting on is some people think we need more and more amenities. Someone off this page wondered recently why we did not build more housing along the river. I am just reinforcing what was in the SJ article that the intent is to have open spaces so we can see the river...even if just driving by....sorry for that car comment!....or should I say...riding by?

I do hope that the Master Plan will stop the system of people offering to build something in the Park for free and the City jumping at the chance to get something new. BTW, who is going to maintain the new amphitheater ?

Anonymous said...

I think the bike rental should be more centrally located. The market for bike rentals are individuals and families, both residents and visitors. They may come to Riverfront with the intention of bike (rental) riding or it might be a spontaneous choice, but either way tucking the bike rental along Union Street will both limit its exposure and use.

I was recently in New York City and there are bike rentals in Central Park, with the biggest one on the south side of Central Park (along 59th Street and at Columbus Circle) where visitors (like me) and residents have the most exposure to the rentals.