Highline – is the honeymoon over?

Grumblings have started at the New York Post about the escalating maintenance costs ($500,000+ per acre) of the Highline. The newly opened stage 1 of the Highline project has become too successful with somewhere between 3-4 times as many visitors as expected and with more people comes more maintenance = higher costs. To cover the costs a new tax precinct has been approved by the City of New York where about 5000 property owners will pay a tax levy to assist with the maintenance costs of the Highline.
Many feel that the Highline has had a flow on effect for the surrounding properties bumping up the property values and patronage in surrounding businesses.

How will this effect the next stages of the project? Will there less planting and more paving? Will more commercial development occur on the structure to offset the cost of maintenance?

As landscape architects and designers we often have to weigh up the costs of maintenance, public vs private space, return on investment and aesthetics vs practicality. Lets hope the this issue does not effect the development or design of the next stages of Highline and that the masterplan design for the site is implemented without being watered-down or compromised.

Post by Damian Holmes in reply to the New York Post – SKY ‘HIGH’ COSTS TAX-SEEKING NEW PARK ALREADY NY’S PRICIEST VIA Curbed NY

Alabama playground to incorporate Tennessee River heritage | Montgomery Advertiser

Montgomery Advertiser reports

With help from Decatur’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the Friends of Delano Park are working to complete the third and final phase of the Playground and Garden for All Children project, the Tennessee River-themed River Wild garden.

“It’s going to be like walking through the Tennessee River valley,” said Anne Daigh, the landscape architect working on the project.

Read the full article at the SOURCE: Montgomery AdvertiserAlabama playground to incorporate Tennessee River heritage | montgomeryadvertiser.com |

In the News – 3 August

Turning roofs into gardens is a flourishing business [KansasCity.com]

African economies hit by global slowdown [TimesoftheInternet]

Drought taking a toll on I-10 trees [Houston Chronicle]

Ornamental Grasses for Fall Landscapes [Epoch Times]

Native shrubs worth planting [Chicago Tribune]

College students are flocking to sustainability degrees, careers – USATODAY.com


Image SOURCE: Flickr – davidsilver

USATODAY.com reports

Students interested in pursuing a job in sustainability now can choose from a variety of “green” degree programs.

With an increased interest in the environment and growth in the “green collar” job sector, colleges and universities are beginning to incorporate sustainability into their programs………

Read the full article at the SOURCE: USATODAY.com – College students are flocking to sustainability degrees, careers

Tree protection measure requires flexibility

Just read Chris Grygiel of Seattlepi.com blog post about the new tree measure in Seattle that could grant developers exemption for retaining trees if the trees preclude or prohibit the development of the site. This new tree protection measure seems a ham-fisted attempt at protecting trees which are in current developments (houses, offices, etc) not future developments. I can understand the need for exemption, as cities like Seattle try to encourage development in the city to create denser (in-fill) developments on existing sites instead of allowing urban sprawl to continue unabated. However, exemptions should be given only where the tree is inspected and assessed by a qualified arborist that the tree is at the end of its life or of very poor form for it species. Developers should be encouraged wherever possible to retain all existing mature trees (including tree offsets/buffers) to maintain the green canopy of the city. The benefits of trees within a city are indisputable and the length of time it takes for new trees to mature on a development is decades.

Developers may find this stance very anti-development – however new development should occur within cities to provide denser housing, offices, and retail. This is where more flexibility in tree protection measures are needed. Flexibility would come in the form of clauses that grant exemptions if the developer can show that they are going to plant new trees or install a green roof that contributes the equivalent benefit as the tree to be removed. For a developer to provide the information for this type of exemption may increase the cost of developments as the developer will have to engage consultants to assess the green value of the new trees and green roof. However, the increased environmental cost of trees being removed may be far greater in the long term.

By Damian Holmes
3 August 2009

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