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New York City Musings

Author: Roger Bardsley, AICP I recently returned from New York City (on 9/11 actually) after an enjoyable four-day visit.  I assume that most of you have been to the “Big Apple” which is certainly one of the distinctive cities in the U.S.  After being there I decided to write a blog about space.  I am doing my dissertation research on grid-form cities and may need to bore you with geek stuff before we continue. Manhattan was developed according to the plan of 1811 that laid out its familiar grid pattern.  The south end of the city was previously laid out by the Dutch and is not rectilinear.  At that time, as was true as other cities in the U.S. developed, there were three “spaces”, the street, the sidewalk and private property.  The buildings generally started right behind the sidewalk, so there was no front setback, and the public/private line was clearly delineated.  This is important – these spaces have essentially not changed since 1811. What has changed is the allocation of space.  Between 1811 and perhaps 1910, the street belonged to horses and horse-drawn vehicles (the horse poop space) while the sidewalks were for pedestrians.  Speed was not as much of an issue then as it is today.  Buggies travel at about 5 mph, which is higher than walking speed, but still not difficult to avoid.  By 1910 motor vehicles began to appear in numbers and created, at the time, significant issues.  Motor vehicles were a bit faster than horses and were made of steel so that an impact with one could cause injury or death. I am going to... read more

San Antonio Riverwalk

Roger Bardsley, AICP I’m sure most of you in the planning profession have been to San Antonio and visited its famous Riverwalk. The success of this downtown amenity, which dates to 1939, has inspired a number of imitations, and comments by visiting city leaders who say they wished they had a river in their communities. I had not been to San Antonio and decided to see what I had been missing.  As is often the case, the “story” is much more complex and interesting than it appears on the surface.  The Riverwalk that most tourists visit is a very short stretch of the river through downtown, plus the horseshoe bend section, and a manmade canal off the bend dug for the 1968 Hemisfair, plus a 1980s canal addition that ends at the Riverwalk mall.  These waterways are served by electric-powered “barges” that take tourists on narrated tours. In 2009 the city completed the “Museum Reach” of the Riverwalk north to the Pearl district, and in 2011 completed “Mission Reach” to the south.  The Museum Reach is like the original Riverwalk, heavily hardscaped and landscaped and reminded me of a Disney World jungle ride. Barges go as far as the Pearl district, and pass through a small lock and dam.  The river goes another mile or so north to Brackenridge Park and its headwaters. The river path is not continuous beyond the Pearl district, but probably will be completed some time in the near future. The Mission Reach is actually a modern greenway through a natural bottomland environment and leads users to four of the five missions on the San... read more

Choose Safe Places: Keeping children healthy in the environments where they grow, learn, and play

The environment plays a large role in children’s health. Did you know that children are more at risk from exposures to harmful substances than adults? Children drink more water and breathe more air relative to their body size than adults do. Additionally, behaviors that are common in children, such as crawling or putting their hands or other objects in their mouths, can expose them to more chemicals. Because children are still growing and developing, exposures to harmful substances can have long-term impacts. Many children spend large amounts of time in child care facilities, making it important to keep these spaces safe from harmful substances. What is Choose Safe Places? The Choose Safe Places (CSP) program is a new initiative to protect children from harmful exposures to chemicals while attending child care centers. The CSP program works with child care providers and others, such as local planners, to ensure child care centers are located in areas free of harmful substances such as lead, arsenic, or volatile organic compounds. CSP considers four key elements when assessing environmentally safe child care locations: 1. Former uses of the site Contaminants can stay on a site long after the activities that caused the contamination have stopped. Knowing what a property was used for in the past will help identify potential contaminants. For example, a building where manufacturing occurred may contain contamination or a property used as a landfill could have a variety of chemicals in soil or water. Just because a property was used for something previously does not mean it is not suitable for a child care center, but these situations should be... read more

NC-APA Fellowship

The Diversity Committee is a working committee within the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC). Our mission is to increase diversity within the planning profession. The Committee actively promotes diversity among planners and planning-related organizations in North Carolina. Recognizing the unique values, ideas and perspectives offered by a diverse workforce, the Committee establishes ongoing networking and education forums to foster awareness and action towards increasing diversity within the planning profession. The Fellowship is open to third and fourth year undergraduate students and first and second year Masters degree students. The Committee will work along with the Fellow to place them with a local government, private, or non-profit organization within the State of North Carolina for an internship in a Planning related field. The $2,000 stipend will be paid to by the Committee to the fellow on a biweekly basis throughout the 10 week period of the fellowship. The fellow is expected to work 20 hours per week with their organization gaining practical planning experience. Biweekly check-ins will occur between and the Committee and the organization. The fellow is expecting to write a brief 300 word statement at the end of the summer as well as have a final evaluation. ELIGIBILITY In 2018, the National American Planning Association (APA) National organization refocused their efforts on what diversity, inclusion, and equity looks like within the Planning profession and within our growingly diverse communities. In addition to being a member of what has been proven as a marginalized group within the Planning profession, the fellowship is available to those who are: Members of one or more of the following... read more

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