Irony of Infill: You Have to Drive to Enjoy Nature

A key assumption built into infill is that walking access to amenities associated with civilization takes priority over walking access to nature. If developers are permitted to aggressively pave over green spaces downtown, more residents will be compelled to drive if they want to enjoy parks and woods. Most likely their overall time spent in ‘unbuilt’ environments will decrease.

Moreover, if downtown neighborhoods are hotter, uglier, more crowded and more polluted, this will discourage people from walking and biking through them as they do now. Contrast walking down King Street with walking down North Street.

As one can see from the 2005 report from the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (PDF), a large fraction of Northampton’s population live within a mile or two of the center of town. It would be a shame if the synthesis that attracted many of them here–a rare balance between nature, homes, shops and workplaces–was lost.