Video: Wayne Feiden Presents Draft 2011-2017 Open Space, Recreation & Multi-Use Trail Plan

Wayne Feiden, Director of Northampton’s Office of Planning and Development, presented highlights from a draft of the 2011-2017 Open Space, Recreation & Multi-Use Trail Plan (PDF, 237 pages, 5MB) to the public at Northampton High School’s Little Theater last night. Here is a complete video of the presentation and discussion (1 hour 20 minutes). The recording was made by Adam Cohen.

From 0:50:10-0:55:38 on the video is a short break-out presentation on the Mill River Greenway Initiative. You can jump right to it on the video timeline if you like.

[Second video added on 9/25/10]

Here is a complete video of the second and similar public forum on the draft Open Space Plan. This forum took place on 9/23/10 and was mainly attended by residents of Ward 3. This video is 1 hour 40 minutes long and was recorded by Lachlan Ziegler.

This chart from page 21 of the draft Open Space Plan shows that developable acres in the denser urban districts (URB and URC) are limited as compared with Rural Residential and Suburban Residential.

See also:

The New Draft Sustainable Northampton Plan: Balancing Compact Growth Against Taxes, Urban Greenspace, Homeowner Preferences
[J. Terrence Farris, Associate Professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at Clemson University:] …smart growth advocates should be realistic about the amount of development that will occur in built-up areas versus outlying open land as various stakeholders consider future policies. The U.S. population is expected to double in this century. It is hard to imagine that a large percentage of that growth will occur in existing built-up areas.

Smart growth advocates should focus especially on encouraging higher-density quality development on open peripheral land. The discussion in this article suggests that this is where most development will occur. Perhaps up to 20 percent can be infill in cities and the older suburbs (this would be a big increase from present patterns). The density of most cities is 5 to 10 times that of their suburbs (Downs 1994)…

Northampton Open Space Plan: “This loss of habitat and natural flood buffering areas is Northampton’s most serious environmental problem” (9/5/07, emphasis added)

UMass Press: “Natural Land: Preserving and Funding Open Space”
Protecting open space is often about protecting what makes a community special and unique… At the small-town or village scale, a forested hillside or surrounding farmland helps create a unique sense of place. Furthermore, preserving open space helps to create distinct edges that stop the blurring of community boundaries that is characteristic of urban sprawl. Defining what is unique about one’s community and identifying places that are special to local residents is an important part of the overall planning process (Hester 1990)…

Bay State Village Visioning Project: Survey Results  

Irony of Infill: You Have to Drive to Enjoy Nature

Northampton Redoubt: Urban Ecology, Planting Trees, and the Long-Term View (emphasis added)
If we remove all of our in-town forested areas and wetlands they will likely be gone forever or at least a very long time. We would do well for posterity to err on the side of caution. For example the cost estimate to restore part of the downtown historic Mill River channel runs into the millions of dollars. Had the river’s diversion in the 1940s been handled differently, perhaps with a sharper eye towards the future, maybe today we wouldn’t be searching for dollars to make its restoration a reality.

The Ecological Cities Project: Greenspace in “The Humane Metropolis”
A metropolis (i.e., metro region or citistate) is considered green if it fosters humans’ connections to the natural world — an idea Anne Whiston Spirn promoted in her seminal 1984 book The Granite Garden. Spirn rejected the idea — easily absorbed if one watches too many “concrete jungle” films, or even televised nature documentaries — that the natural world begins beyond the urban fringe. “Nature in the city,” she wrote, “must be cultivated, like a garden, rather than ignored or subdued.”

Rutherford Platt, “Regreening the Metropolis: Pathways to More Ecological Cities”

Boston Globe: “How the city hurts your brain”
Natural settings are full of objects that automatically capture our attention, yet without triggering a negative emotional response — unlike, say, a backfiring car. The mental machinery that directs attention can relax deeply, replenishing itself…

City life can also lead to loss of emotional control. Kuo and her colleagues found less domestic violence in the apartments with views of greenery. These data build on earlier work that demonstrated how aspects of the urban environment, such as crowding and unpredictable noise, can also lead to increased levels of aggression. A tired brain, run down by the stimuli of city life, is more likely to lose its temper…

CommonWealth Magazine: “Urban greenery can bring better health, more attractive neighborhoods, and even safer streets”

Video: First public “in-process” presentation and feedback session for Design Northampton Week
Fran Volkmann, Vice Chair, Community Preservation Committee
We would like to concentrate development closer in, we like the idea of walkability, bikeability, neighborhood center… The thing that happens to us, however, is that we buy that and then somebody builds some horrible thing…and then they say to you, “This is infill, you know. It’s good, it’s infill.” …You know if you walk in European cities, you very often find little tiny pocket parks, and little bits of green spaces, mixed in with beautiful buildings… How do we…learn to…value…respect for people at the same time that we try to fill in our park spaces?

MA Secy of Energy and Environmental Affairs: Urban Parks Deserve Protection as do Habitat Reserves and Working Landscapes
[Ian Bowles:] We need smart land conservation along with smart growth. That’s why, going forward, the commonwealth is going to concentrate its land protection efforts on three priorities, which complement the administration’s smart-growth goals:

  • Urban Parks: For smart growth to succeed, urban life needs to be attractive. From a land perspective, the best thing we can do to improve urban living is to make sure there are beautiful parks within walking distance of every urban dweller. So we plan to create visionary urban parks in 10 to 15 cities in neighborhoods that don’t have them, and to significantly [improve] parks in all 51 Massachusetts cities over the next four years…

Berkeley, California: Cautions on Infill
In 1990, 60 percent of New Yorkers said they would live somewhere else if they could, and in 2000, 70 percent of urbanites in Britain felt the same way. Many suburbanites commute hours every day just to have “a home, a bit of private space, and fresh air.”

March 10: Zoning Revisions Committee to Meet; Our Suggestions
How will proposed rule changes affect tree canopy ward by ward?

Photo Essay: The Forest Behind View Avenue

Topographical Map Shows How Kohl Condo Proposal Will Eat Into a Rare Stand of Mature Trees in Downtown

Tree Loss and Slab-on-Grade Foundations: A Poor Fit with the Sustainable Northampton Plan
…let’s review some of the goals of the Sustainable Northampton Plan:

Add standards in City’s street tree and open space programs to help reduce fossil fuel use (e.g. provide summer shade to reduce use of air conditioning) (page 22)

Minimize the loss of tree canopy throughout the City and increase tree canopy in urbanized areas to maintain a higher quality environment in all areas… Target: 2% increase in area or number per year (page 23)

[Kohl Construction’s] proposal to cut down numerous large trees in an urban neighborhood clearly contradicts several goals of the Sustainable Northampton Plan. About an acre of impervious surface would be added. We have previously discussed the role of trees in air quality, stormwater management and reducing the urban heat island effect.