Private vs Public Money for Parks

New York Times recently published When Parks Must Rely on Private Money by DIANE CARDWELL concerning the struggles of cities to fund the construction and maintenance of parks throughout the USA. Many parks are funded through selling of land or revenues generated by carparks or taxes from new nearby developments and others are funded by residents and companies donating funds in return for naming rights or plaques. Cardwell cites examples of parks that have been constructed with the use some private funding including Millennium Park in Chicago and the Highline and with the tradeoff causing issues in some cities.

The article stimulated a few ideas I have had during my career. I find that funding of new or redevelopment of parks is a often a fine line between private and public funding, which often blurs the line between public and private space. Private funding often causing issues with residents because of naming or commercial activities in the new park that create a private area.

An ever-growing trend for cities around the world is to justify the cost of construction and maintenance of parks through inclusion of private funding or commercial activities such as paid parking garages, retail shops, restaurants, or areas that are commercialised for entertainment(concerts, festivals, etc). How to strike a balance between private and public funding is very complicated process for each city and requires research and consultation.

Many cities find it hard to redevelop parks with the use of public money as it is often controversial as parks are sometimes seen by residents as non-essential. Residents see hospitals, schools, and police as essential services within the community whereas parks are seen as non-essential and that public monies would be better spent on other services. To avoid this cities seek private funding in return for naming rights or a commercial development on or near the  park. Now the question is how far to go with private funding and how much is the park compromised by accepting the funding in return for naming right or commercial development?

This issue of public and private funding will become more and more prevalent around the world as developers of retail and residential developments blur the line between public and private space by creating spaces in developments that are town squares and parks that can be accessed by the public. This blurring will cause some confusion with city residents as to what is public space and what is private. It also raises the question – Are developers going to develop parks and maintain them or will it always remain the domain of the local government?

Private development of public parks as apart of residential developments or commercial developments, which are then handed to government after certain period is already occurring in some parts of the world. Will this become a growing trend across cities for small and large parks? Or will it remain only in residential developments?

By Damian Holmes

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Australian state government fastracks the rebuilding of Marysville

3 months after WLA reported in Marysville Moving On that the Marysville Urban Design Framework was released for public comment now comes news that the UDF has been fast-tracked and approved by Victorian State Planning Minister Justin Madden. Marysville was the township that was destroyed during the 2009 bushfires.

Mr Madden said that Murrindindi Shire Council had played a key role in the formulation and review of the UDF, working in partnership with the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (VBRRA) and with the community who had major input into the framework.

Minister for Regional and Rural Development Jacinta Allan, speaking from Marysville, said the new framework was designed to address the social and environmental needs of the community in the immediate and long term.

“The framework will build on the existing Marysville rebuilding projects such as the Gallipoli Park Masterplan, Marysville Motor Museum Shopping Centre, and the $7 million school and children’s hub.”

[SOURCE: Victorian State Government]

Calls for Collaboration between professions

Susan Szenasy posted on Metropolis an article titled “United We Stand” in which she recalls some government officials giving encouragement at a recent NeoCon East annual trade show that there is “a new day for government design”. Szeasy goes on to talk about the importance to design of the recent $5.5 billion allocation to General Services Administration and the Department of Defense’s $7.4 billion reconfiguration funding.

However the point I found most interesting in Szenasy’s article was the GSA signing of a new accord with AIA, ASLA, IIDA; in which they have pledged to collaborate to achieve design excellence. I find this encouraging that professional associations have come together.

Currently, there is change occurring not just in the short-term with the Global Financial Crisis, but it seems more and more that sustainability, the environment, and climate change is becoming more important to the world. I feel that we need to move forward with new ideas and be armed with new tools especially in the area of urban design where cities are shrinking in the USA, new eco-towns are being built in the UK and new mega-cities are being designed and constructed in China, India, and Africa. Now is the best time to seek out other disciplines for collaboration not just for the networking and possible work opportunities but for the greater good of the profession. As Landscape Architects I know we often seek collaboration with other disciplines whether they are internal or external of our companies, however I think that as we head towards a new decade we should make more of a commitment to further collaborate with other professions to improve your knowledge and their knowledge so that together we can create a better future.

By Damian Holmes

Read the full article that inspired this post at the [SOURCE: Metropolis – United We Stand]

Construction begins on world’s longest cross-sea bridge

Shanghai Daily reports

CONSTRUCTION of the worlds longest cross-sea bridge linking Chinas southern economic hub of Guangdong Province to Hong Kong and Macau began yesterday, a project expected to strengthen economic ties.Starting from Lantau Island off the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Y-shaped Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge will have a total length of almost 50 kilometers(31 miles), of which about 35km(21 miles) will be built over the sea, making it the longest of its kind, according to Zhu Yongling, an official in charge of the projects construction.

The bridge is going to cost 73 billion yuan ($10.3billion USD)

read more at the SOURCE:  Shanghai Daily – Sea bridge goes long way to link key zones

Gateway Arch International Design Competition

Gateway Arch - SOURCE: Flickr - rpkelly22

The National Park Service and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay recently launched an international design competition to invigorate the park and city areas surrounding of one of the world’s most iconic monuments, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The winning design will be announced in October 2010, with the resulting work completed by October 28, 2015 – the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Arch.

The competition – “Framing a Modern Masterpiece: The City + The Arch + The River 2015” – is called for in the NPS’s new General Management Plan, which was developed with extensive public input over an 18 month period, and finally approved on November 23.

The competition will invite teams to create a new design for the Arch grounds and surrounding areas with 10 goals in mind:

  • Create an iconic place for the international icon, the Gateway Arch.
  • Catalyze increased vitality in the St. Louis region.
  • Honor the character-defining elements of the National Historic Landmark.
  • Weave connections and transitions from the City and the Arch grounds to the Mississippi River.
  • Embrace the Mississippi River and the east bank in Illinois as an integral part of the national park.
  • Mitigate the impact of transportation systems.
  • Reinvigorate the mission to tell the story of St. Louis as the gateway to national expansion.
  • Create attractors to promote extended visitation to the Arch, the City and the river.
  • Develop a sustainable future for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
  • Enhance the visitor experience and create a welcoming and accessible environment.

Additional information can be found at www.cityarchrivercompetition.org.

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