Instead of “treating landscape as a passive backdrop” Kate Orff designs to “connect people and ecosystems in an immediate and direct way.” She is “passionate about the role of landscape in cities” and believes design “has a huge role to play - not just to beautify - but to literally reset ecosystems, to reconnect people to each other through these social spaces that can also perform ecological services.”
For 50 years, Erie’s development has framed by an auto-focused vision.
The 2018 proposal by PennDOT support additional traffic along the city’s waterfront arterial highway (one that now attracts 16,000 cars, trucks and tractor-trailers - 80% of which don’t stop in the city) runs counter to the 2015 Erie Refocused Comprehensive Plan by Charles Buki of czb.
PennDOTs vision of roundabouts, and underpass, and a few pedestrian overpasses will further isolate the city residents from the waterfront. Michael Furhman described the proposed roundabout as “pedestrian Russian Roulette” in his Erie Times News essay “PennDOT trying to solve the wrong problem.” Let’s call Kate before it’s too late!
John King, urban design critic at The San Francisco Chronicle, reported on September 30, 2019, on landscape architect Kate Orff’s ambitious plan for “a five-acre constructed ecosystem” along the west coast waterfront with “tide pools open to waters and a bayside lawn capable of holding 5,000 people.” Orff, of Scape Studio, NY, was the first landscape architect honored with a MacArthur “Genius Award” for her work “designing adaptive and resilient urban habitats and encouraging residents to be active stewards of the ecological systems underlying our built environment.”
Reporters have a responsibility to present issues in proper contexts surrounding crucial public proposals.
Your Erie reports on “Project Gateway” being organized by the Jefferson Educational Society October 17th - 19th, 2019. Urban design students from Kent State and other universities working with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative will propose connections to Erie’s waterfront.
Erie News Now also reported on the August 21 meeting noting that both Erie Mayor Joe Schember and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper support this effort to generate proposals regarding the future connectivity of Erie’s waterfront, without committing to any changes in PennDOT’s current plans for roundabouts, and underpass and pedestrian overpasses.
In his August 24th editorial, “A fresh look at Bayfront Parkway” Pat Howard noted that many drivers prefer to “bisect” Erie by driving quickly across the Bayfront rather than using 12th or 26th streets.
Not one of these reports including the important fact that not one of Erie’s city or county comprehensive plans encourage more cars, trucks and tractor-trailers on the waterfront. In fact, Erie Refocused (aka the “Buki Plan”) directs Erie decision-makers to prioritize the needs and preferences of pedestrians and bicyclists over vehicles.
This local coverage of the CUDC’s upcoming visit to Erie ignores the foundational element of this study. The many master plans that include addressing the waterfront avoided calling for a widened bayfront highway and instead called for greater connection to the downtown to reverse the fragmentation of our community:
The Erie Refocused Master Plan of 2015 by CZB calls for (P.38): “Create an iconic connection between the Bayfront and downtown” The Port Authority Master Plan of 2017 by Albert Kahn Associates Inc. calls for (p. 63): “Connect the Bayfront and treat it as an extension of the Downtown” P.4 identifies the following as a challenge: “Access and connectivity barriers.” It is logical to extend this important guideline to say “do not create barriers between the downtown and the waterfront. The Erie Downtown Partnership Master Plan calls for (p. 47): “One critical area adjacent to downtown outside the official physical boundaries of the DID, is that portion of the Bayfront to the west of the Convention Center--the former GAF site (west of the Convention Center). As this property develops, its connection to Downtown Erie is critical.” The Our West Bayfront Community Plan of 2016 by City Architecture calls for the following at the State Street overpass of the Bayfront Highway (p.37): “This focus area (Northeast portion of OWB) is anchored by a proposed pedestrian bridge over the Bayfront Connector, to provide direct and safe access to the waterfront.”
All four these master plans identified that the prime issue relative to the bayfront parkway is to reverse its current status as a barrier to downtown connectivity, and focus on local resident and business quality of life and livablity by FOCUSING PRIMARILY on pedestrian and bike connectivity. Current PennDOT plans are focused instead increasing traffic volume and diminishing pedestrian and bike connectivity from the region’s greatest amenity, the waterfront.
It is the responsibility of the local news sources to present the issue in its full and proper context and avoid cherry-picking aspects of an issue that can easily misguide the public through the omission of important facts.
What do you think of the waterfront plans for the City of Erie envisioned by PennDOT’s highway traffic engineers? Read Micheal Furhman’s critique in the Erie Times-News, “PennDOT is trying to solve the wrong problem.”
COME ONE, COME ALL:
DATE - Wednesday, August 7, 2019
TIME - 4pm to 6pm
PRESENTATION - 4:30pm
LOCATION - Gannon University, 124 West 7th St., Walden Center - Yehl Ballroom.
Despite a state mandate for walkablity, the City of Erie has closed Division Street, torn down the McBride Viaduct, and has made no effort to block the City Engineer’s and PennDOT’s plan for a 5-lane arterial highway. Will Erie’s City Planner take a stand against a widened Bayfront highway?
Lisa Austin, Roland Slade, Adam Trott and Abdullah Washington clarify the connection between innovation and walkability in their essay that quotes urban visionaries Philip Langdon, Charles L Marohn (Strong Towns), Dr. Donald Shoupe, Jeff Speck, Charles Landry and Charles Montgomery.