First Park Morton Planning & Design Workshop Gets Off to Slow Start
Last night’s two and a half hour workshop focused on involving community members to assist in setting planning and design priorities for the redevelopment of the Park Morton community. As exciting and important as this is, it got off to a somewhat tenuous start. Despite the large turnout for the November 16th community meeting, only about 50 community members attended last night’s workshop.
An introductory presentation introduced guiding principals for the meeting — including planning efforts to date, site analysis, planning feedback to date, and concepts, themes, and areas of focus. The presentation also included revitalization principles which included neighborhood connectivity, walkability, defining public vs. private space, and appropriateness of housing types & character. There was also a review of the 2004 Georgia Avenue Corridor Plan principles and the 2008 Small Area Plan.
All of this review was to assist members of the community in their participation during the following breakout sessions. Due to the low attendance, there were only four breakout groups, each charged with answering three basic questions. These questions were:
- What strengths do you see in the physical layout of the neighborhood;
- What opportunities do you see to improve the neighborhood; and,
- What concerns you about the layout of your neighborhood or how it might change?
Some of the groups were more successful at answering these questions than others. However, each ultimately did provide some valuable feedback that the development team will be able to use to begin creating some design concepts. These design ideas will be available to the community during the second planning and design workshop scheduled for December 12th.
Some of the strengths that were expressed about the community were its close proximity to public transportation (both bus and rail), the architecture of the surrounding community and how the new development should draw inspiration from the architectural vocabulary of the surrounding neighborhood to help it connect with the community, and the strong, diverse community that lives in the neighborhood where neighbors have deep roots and look out for each other. Depending upon one’s point of view, some saw a lack of dense development as a community strength while others didn’t feel so strongly about that.
One of the big stumbling blocks for the meeting was that nothing has been defined, as yet, with regards to the size of buildings or where these buildings would be located. Because of this, it was difficult for some to envision how dense buildings would need to be or how the buildings would be distributed between the sites. The result of this (at least in the group in which I participated) was that too much focus was placed on the Bruce Monroe parcel and advocating for park space. The missed opportunity here was that the group spent no time discussing how the current Park Morton site could be configured or re-imagined to function better and become a true asset to the community.
Near the end of the breakout session, I suggested two key ideas that I strongly feel need to be addressed to both help the community better understand the issue of development and density and to create a genuine, long-term commitment to providing park space in the community.
The two ideas are:
- The community needs to work with our New Community partners and put forth a genuine effort on creating a good design and mix of housing types. This is especially critical for the original Park Morton site. This needs to take into account the zoning restrictions, parking requirements & needs (if any), and realignment of roads and infrastructure. If the community can spend time working this through for the Park Morton site, we will have a good idea of the additional housing needed and what that density may look like at both of the sites.; and,
- In reference to Deputy Mayor Kenner’s letter in which he stated that there is a commitment to retaining half of the Bruce Monroe site as a permanent park, I suggest that once there is an understanding of how development on the site will look that the city subdivide the parcel and retain ownership of the portion on which a permanent park is created. By retaining ownership of the public park portion of the property, this would ensure that any future interest in developing the land (should there ever be any interest) it would have to go through the land disposition process and would be unable to proceed without public meetings, ANC review, and council hearings. This would be an excellent way for the city to show that it is committed to maintaining a park at the site both today and in the future.
There is still a lot of work to do, and a tremendous opportunity for community engagement to help shape what the Park Morton development may look like. The next planning and design workshop is scheduled for Saturday, December 12th, from 10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School.Explore posts in the same categories: Development, Housing comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.