After Thursday evening's Ohio Street panel discussion
, a number of important issues came to light regarding the future of Ohio Street - an integral connector between the Inner and Outer Harbor. One of the biggest issues, that was a real eye-opener, is the complete lack of utilities running along the street (such as gas and electric) that would hold up any projects other than future public space projects. If the ECHDC, The City and/or any other parties are serious about pushing for development along the corridor, then lack of utilities must be addressed. An important issue to be sure.
At the same time, Moderator Robert Shibley asked the audience if there was an elephant in the room. Something that was so big that maybe it was going completely unnoticed. It was not long after that Roger Schroeder (audience member) made, what I feel, was the most profound and significant point of the evening. Basically, he asked whether anyone was looking at the bigger picture (the elephant?)
Are we thinking big enough when it comes to our waterfront - the dead end channels and winding river? Have we stepped back and actually looked at the geography of the area? The connectivity? The flow? Or are we just going to take what we have and run with it? I'm not saying that one direction is better than the other... I'm only wondering if we should be satisfied with heading down the path of least resistance.
Roger's question made me rethink what the possibilities were for our waterfront. We've changed the geographic composition of waterways in the past for industrial purposes... why can't we do the same for residential and business opportunities? Is there plenty of land to build a dream waterfront along the Buffalo River, or can we manipulate land and create new waterways to make the landscape work to full capacity? New canals don't have to be dug to accommodate freighters... just pleasure boats. There might be opportunities to capitalize on our waterways, install pedestrian bridges, create live-work scenarios. Have we explored all of our options in order to create the most dynamic waterfront possible?
From Roger Schroeder:
Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood... Make big plans, aim high in hope and work. - Daniel H. Burnham, US architect & city planner (1846 - 1912)
The Ohio Street Panel Discussion Thursday night was inspiring but the visions discussed may have lacked the kind of wicked strokes necessary to spur the reinvention of this very urban but abandoned industrial lands.
Connecting and expanding our waterway along the Buffalo River creates exciting ways to reclaim these industrial urban lands, preserve history and make them part of our future. The attached sketch reflects the most "timid" of bold moves we should explore and share with others. As an urban planning strategy we could create in our land use plans, the water inlets and connectors (to be developed as we grow) and establish plats, infrastructure and amenities accordingly. This is the work of government at its best, laying the ground work for private investment and community excitement.
Lead image: Copenhagen | Basic rendering: Roger Schroeder