Tuesday, November 25, 2008
recap of last week's Point meeting
the Poplar Point meeting last week was really great. Biggest complaint: the city still has not figured out how to publicize these meetings (no mention of it on the city website, no way to sign up to receive emails, etc). Regardless, Birney Elementary was filled with people eager to learn more about the awesome future we all want in Poplar Point.
Very different from meetings in the past that involved PowerPoint presentations and table discussions, this was much more focused on getting the public's opinion on the separate elements that will make up the 150-acre development: landscape design, neighborhood scale, waterfront features, views, and memorial design.
Picture this: lining the walls of the school's auditorium were booths and tables representing all of those elements, each with a great variety of pictures and diagrams depicting the potential options in each category:
Which do we prioritize more, the view from the Metro station to the Capitol, or the view of the river from Good Hope Road? Do we imagine the waterfront park looking more like Battery Park City in NYC or Millenium Park in Chicago? For the dedicated memorial space, are we thinking more along the lines of the new Pentagon Memorial, or something like the statue at the center of Logan Circle?
The truly remarkable part about the meeting was that at each of the booths there were principals and employees from the firms assigned to them: someone from William McDonough & Partners, a Charlottesville-based sustainable architecture and design firm; a number of people from Torti Gallas, the architecture and urban design firm of places like Skyland, Shirlington, Bethesda Row, and Columbia Heights; representatives from EDAW, one of the landscape planners; etc, etc.
Public participation was in the form of small stickers that the public could place on pictures and ideas that they liked best, with a color-coded system that placed greater priority on certain visions over others. It is a very cut and dry way of getting public opinion, but it certainly allows for a realistic sense of what people are looking for. And while the city still needs to do a better job of getting the word out, the team is certainly doing an amazing job of being transparent as well as open to the oftentimes-monster that is public opinion.
There will be many more meetings as the months and years go by (yes, this will take years). Fortunately, we are off to a great start.
to the team's credit, there is a website for the Poplar Point EIS which has details, meeting announcements, and more...