Monday, March 6, 2017

AS 220 Providence, stinking sinkholes and complete streets

Bromo District talk with Providence's Bert Crensca


There is much activity in the Bromo Arts District under the new leadership of Stephen Yasko who came to the Westside from Towson's radi station TMD. On March 17 he will bring Bert Crenca who, he says, has transformed downtown Providence to speak at the community room of the 520 Park Apartments.

Umberto Crenca
 Umberto Crenca is the founder of AS220, a  artist-run organization committed to providing an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. He will share experiences that could be applied to the downtown Bromo District.

Of course, this is all assuming that artists as pioneers are a good thing. A gentrification battle in hyperdrive fought in LA's Boyle neighborhood soesnt see it that way. See CityLAB's article.
For the Bromo discussion you can register for free here.


Sinkhole: no longer sinking but still stinking


The Brew, true to its name, dug a little deeper into what's brewing at the bottom of those pesky sinkholes and dug up two important facts that were not included in my own more optimistic sinkhole story last week.
First, those downtown sinkholes have already cost $15 million and that is before its all finished. Which gets us to the second item, which is that the sinkhole at Cathedral Street is not scheduled to be finished in March but the end of April. I checked it out myself, it is, indeed still an open hole and still stinking. The Brew describes the cost breakdown this way:
Cathedral Street sinkhole: Not yet capped
(Photo: Philipsen)
After paying $4.5 million to restore a block of Centre Street that collapsed in April, the Board of Estimates has awarded $10.1 million more to reopen two blocks of Mulberry and Cathedral streets struck by the same problem – sinkholes caused by hundred-year-old sewer tunnels that collapsed from age and neglect.
The bulk of the latest funds – $8.5 million – is headed for the city’s “go-to” sewer contractor, Spiniello Companies, with another $1.6 million allocated to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for “administration.”
Still to come: the costs of repairing sidewalks, streets and alleys damaged by Spiniello’s crews and equipment. (Mark Reutter)
The cost figures prove that a pound of cure is really a lot heavier than an ounce of prevention and that it was a costly oversight of the City to let its infrastructure sink to such a level of disrepair that it simply collapses into itself.


Healthy City and  Complete Streets


In a piece of surprise news about our city's health we learned that Baltimore is doing, ahem, pretty well among the nation's largest 40 cities when it comes to health. At least according to the map of CityHealth. On their website the 40 cities have a color coded marker for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for some key indicators having to do with health. And, remarkably, Baltimore scored Bronze while Columbus and Indianapolis and Austin went meda- free and health leader Colorado's Denver is a peer with bronze. But before you pop the champagne corks, the Baltimore ranking is somewhat dubious, Health Commissioner Lena Weng's excellent work notwithstanding; at least two metrics are based on policies and not reality and have yielded only very little in terms of results: Inclusionary Zoning and Complete Streets. As Councilman Ryan Dorsey put it:
Well, since our inclusionary housing law doesn't seem to produce any inclusionary housing, and our complete streets resolution doesn't seem to produce complete streets - and we're working on a complete streets ordinance, which the mayor's transition report says we need, and others continue to try to rewrite our inclusionary housing law... who made these assessments? (Councilman Ryan Dorsey).
Philosophy and action of complete streets (Diogenes in his barrel) 
 Dorsey will explain tomorrow, Tuesday at 6:15 in a "Design Conversation at the Windup Space what Complete Streets really should be and how he will compel the City to do the right thing via a council bill he will sponsor. Other presenters are Liz Cornish from Bikemore and I.

The event details are on the D center webpage. The event is free.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA