Notre Dame Northampton Charrette Critical of Hospital Hill Plans, Fleshes Out Alternative

The Notre Dame Design Studio circulated the following announcement yesterday. They will present their final proposals from the Northampton Charrette to the public on Saturday, December 13th at 2:30pm at Northampton High School. The public is encouraged to attend.

Hi everyone,

In response to feedback from a number a people requesting more information about our proposal for Hospital/Village Hill, we’ve just added to our website a detailed written description of our drawings. We hope this will clarify our approach and the ways in which it differs from the current MassDevelopment plan. The Citizen Advisory Committee will be holding a public meeting to discuss the MassDevelopment plan on December 1st, and a public hearing on December 9th.

You can view our work and the new commentary here:

As always, your feedback and comments are most welcome.

– The Notre Dame Design Studio

Here are some of the Design Studio’s specific concerns about the MassDevelopment Plan:

…the proposal currently before the CAC fails to promote the Sustainability Plan in a number of ways:

  • The proposal essentially destroys the site’s most valuable features.
  • Land is not put to its best or most efficient use. Instead, large private lots sprawl throughout the design and inhibit the creation of well-designed public space.
  • Uses are not mixed, but are primarily residential, with the exception of one huge industrial employer. The design is essentially an industrial park next to a residential subdivision. Residents must drive off-site for many of their daily needs, essentially making Hospital Hill an unsustainable suburb.
  • The proposal does not provide for usable public open space or recreation areas. This is a huge loss to the Hospital Hill residents and to the larger Northampton community. The mere preservation of undeveloped acreage does not, by itself, create the kind of shared open space that is conducive to community life.
  • The proposal does not provide for the enhancement of arts, culture, or heritage resources. There is not enough mixed-use development or public space proposed in which these activities might thrive.
  • The proposal does not create a walkable community. It is a residential subdivision that depends on cars.

See also:

Video: Northampton State Hospital Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting, 11/17/08
Selected highlight: 1:50:00-1:57:46
George Kohout, member of the Planning Board
appreciation for the outlining of more green areas. Would like more
information on why the number of additional proposed homes is targeted
at 100. The original plan had some benchmarks around the amount of
commercial activity. Will the target for commercial activity grow as
the number of residential units grows? Wants a village look, a village
mix. Concerned about a stratification of homes and incomes in the
development. Consider larger greenspaces that can accommodate a range
of activities. Consider a structure dedicated to community use.

November 13 Planning Board Meeting: Hazards Mitigation Plan; Zoning
Revisions Committee; Hotel Northampton Complaint; Hospital Hill
Diverging from Vision of Planned Village; Comments on Notre Dame
Charrette Website

Members of the Planning Board Are Displeased with
How Hospital Hill/Village Hill Is Diverging from Their Vision of a
Planned Village

Jodrie: “We have an awful working relationship with this developer
[MassDevelopment]… They’re going about this in a way that’s not
working with us at all… I’m extremely disappointed in this process…
It’s MassDevelopment who’s not listening to us [as opposed to the
Citizens Advisory Committee]. They don’t hear what we tell them about
what our interpretation of this village is…”

Jodrie: “…the developer is not complying with our vision of what a
village ought to be… We need to tell the developer directly that
they’re not going to get these approvals when they arrive here
regardless of what the CAC says.”

2:25:25… Baker: “It does
seem as though there are these end runs like there was with the police
department [regarding their new police station] where they come to us
finally and say, ‘Well, this has already been approved and there’s been
all these other hearings and you know, you just can’t raise that

2:26:35… Dierenger: “I think that we have to fight
that pressure… What I’m sensing here is that this is what MassHousing
is doing. They have this strategy of going to CAC, getting their
approval and then things fester politically and then the pressure
mounts for us to just approve what everyone already thinks is a
foregone conclusion ’cause CAC approved it… We know that’s not true.
We know what our purview is. We know what we have control over…
[Resisting the pressure is] going to suck, but…we’re not the CAC…”

Video: Third public “in-process” presentation and feedback session for Design Northampton Week
Here is a complete Vimeo video
of Design Northampton Week’s third public “in-process” presentation and
feedback session that took place on September 11. It’s one hour and 32
minutes long. Notre Dame students presented ideas for revitalizing King
Street between Bridge Road and North Street. They also made suggestions
about Hospital Hill (Village Hill), particularly the part Kollmorgen is
slated to move to. Click to see the existing and proposed designs for Hospital Hill (Village Hill).

Valley Advocate Critiques Sustainable Northampton Plan
the diagram of the planned single-use sprawl [on Hospital Hill] a mile
and a half from downtown, the mayor remarked on how well the architect
used urban design principles by packing a lot of homes into the design.
Density of construction is, of course, only one principle of urban
design, but without regard for mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods,
packed housing can also be a ghetto.

Valley Advocate: Northampton: No “Village” at Hospital Hill (6/12/08)

Smart Growth vs. “Smart Growth”
…developers often seize on convenient aspects of Smart Growth that align
with their profit goals and disregard others. A common result appears
to be overlarge developments, inapt developments, and/or excessive