Sunday, September 20, 2009

Short News Stories No. 3

Advocacy Group Proposes Public Space vs. Viaduct
The battle in Seattle is no longer over whether to remove the Alaskan Way Viaduct that severs downtown from the central waterfront. An earthquake in 2001 settled that. The issue is whether a new tunneled roadway should replace it, as the governor plans at $4.2 billion, or a mix of alternatives including public transit and a surface road. The People's Waterfront Coalition, led by urban planner Cary Moon, wants the change the debate from how to replace the highway with how to make a great waterfront and how can Seattle become less car dependent. The group supports public transit and a surface waterfront street, not highway. Voters in 2007 were against the tunnel option and also opposed a replacement overhead roadway.
Next American City, Issue 22.

We're Fat!
Obesity -- that's clinical talk for big fat butts -- has doubled among adults in the U.S. in the last 20 years, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The annual cost is put at $117 billion (how do people figures these things out?) and fatness may account for as many as 300,000 deaths per year. Exercise is engaged in by only 25 percent of the population. The Trust for Public Land is leading the way in promoting urban parks, its "Parks for People" initiative that pushes for building public spaces where people live. TPL estimates that 33 percent of the public in large cities have no access to a park, playground or public space, along waterfront for instance. Newark, N.J., Baltimore and Los Angeles are among its target cities.
Land & People, Trust for Public Land, Spring 2004.

Old Factory Destroyed
It's a familiar but chilling story -- old factory on the river shuts, jobs lost, owners go bankrupt and the decision is made to tear down and not reuse. The case here is from Augusta, Maine, where the American Tissue mill, built in 1903, was the last operating paper factory until it shut in 2001. Its latest owner is serving time for fraud. And what was once a humming, living thing employing as many as 500 people is now demolished, its brick walls strewn about the site on the Kennebec River. There's now talk of a mixed-use development on the nearly one-mile site.
The New York Times, Aug. 10, 2009

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