Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Urban News Vol. 65

Apologies for the large delay between posts. Here are a pair of local pieces regarding the built environment and an editorial on a bigger national issue.

Wegmans Offers Compromise on Plans for East Avenue Renovation
by Brian Sharp, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • Wegmans is seeking variances and special approvals from planning, zoning and traffic control boards, as well as City Council
  • Building face is largely brick or stone, but city code requires 70 percent transparency
  • None of the old Brighton Village buildings are found on the national register as a result of significant modifications to the original structures
  • The signal at Probert Street would be moved to facilitate parking lot access

I'm not sure where the compromise is here. I suppose it is in the alternate designs that city boards can press the issue of selection for or against. Wegmans apparently proved that the owner of the Fountain Bleu has his price and will be devouring the entire block. The parking lot will be utterly massive, larger than the store itself, an urban disgrace. Hopefully someday when the motoring paradigm fails us, townhouses could be located along the east side of Probert Street, baring their proverbial asses to the mega-mart.

Brighton Charrette Leads to Many Suggestions for Monroe Avenue
by Ashwin Verghese, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Article Key Points:

  • Town leaders, residents, and business owners were brought together to envision improvements to the town's main commercial corridor
  • More than 100 people attended the event, exceeding expectations of the town
  • Main suggestions included adding more green space to the busy corridor, reducing traffic from four lanes to three, and giving storefronts a uniform aesthetic look
  • Ideas will be incorporated into a report that the town will use in its next comprehensive plan update

From Old Brighton to Current Brighton we go. I was unable to attend, but from what I understand, participants in this charette went outdoors to immerse themselves in their focus areas. I suppose I don't understand what the intention behind the clamor less green space is in such a lot density area. I'm hopeful that it means less seas of asphalt. A uniform aesthetic is tricky business. I am all for codes that promote uniformity of scale and programming, but towns that require uniform facades or building materials are the epitome of 'fake' and undermine the diversity that actually creates vibrant density.

The following may end up being an incoherent rant. I hope it makes some sense to you or fosters some level of inspiration to take personal action. Mostly, I feel the need to write for the sake of my own mental health.

I'm largely appalled at the unchanged behavior of the masses here on the 50th day of worst environmental catastrophe in the history of this nation. I'll refrain from posting any pictures of oiled birds because quite frankly, I can't bear to fucking look at them anymore. Instead I'll picture the ignorant U.S. American public and their high stupidity. The dumbasses pictured to the right are far more worried about how their beach time might be affected by this disaster than potential health hazards to the ecosystem, and more importantly and more immediately, THEMSELVES! The cleanup crews leave no skin exposed in dealing with this shit. Nothing says summer vacation like dodging tarballs.

For those who don't choose to daydream though life, the time for action was yesterday. Mr. Kunstler, as usual, writes a solid piece this week which calls for radical restructuring of our daily lives. Unfortunately he fears we have squandered our national treasure on a built environment of the poorest quality (see the utter fucking disgrace that is Atlanta), incompatible with human-scaled activity not involving personal motors, and may be unable to remedy the situation due to the global deleveraging of wealth and capital.

Essentially I'd like to make another call for intense conservation efforts at all levels. Recycling is no longer good enough. Re-use is the action that necessitates less production in the first place. Start by identifying objects normally thrown away that have instrinsic value (the backside of single sided copies and printouts makes excellent scrap paper). Recycle everything else humanly possible. Ruthlessly strive for efficiency. Reduce your electrical and natural gas burden (electricity is NOT really clean energy by and large). Walk or bike everywhere you can. Position yourself strategically near the most transit options (I realize this is difficult, but I'd also prefer to do it while I can still dictate some or all of the terms). This country represents 24.3% of the world's daily oil consumption (2007) despite constituting 4.53% of the global population. We can surely reduce our consumption to a level that would render offshore drilling pointless without an accompanying surge in the price of the commodity, but we won't.

1 comment:

CWhittaker said...

Having attended the charette, the greenspace that people mention involves utilizing greenery such as a tree canopy to provide a buffer between pedestrians and the existing auto traffic along Monroe Ave, as well as better utilizing existing green areas, such as the areas in front of Twelve Corners Middle School.