PS21 Report on Place-Making in Portsmouth

According to participants in a PS21 workshop, inexpensive measures like better seating, food trucks, planned activities, better lighting and basic landscaping could transform under-utilized spaces in downtown Portsmouth and enhance popular locations.

More than 40 citizens took part in ‘walkability audit’ and ‘place-making’ workshop in late October that focused on four downtown Portsmouth locations:

  • Vaughan Mall
  • Fat Belly Square (aka Market and Hanover streets)
  • Market Square
  • State Street (main between the Unitarian Church and Fleet Street)

Participants asked: Were the places welcoming, cooperative and neighborly? Did they have vital uses and enjoyable activities? Were the locations walkable, convenient and accessible? Were they safe, clean and attractive?

Ideas from the brainstorming session and the ‘place-making’ principles that informed it are summarized in a newly released report from PS21 (Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century) and Jane Lafleur, the workshop leader from the organization Lift360.

READ THE REPORT: PLACE-MAKING PORTSMOUTH

The workshop, which followed a showing of the classic film on place-making, “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces,” generated dozens of ideas for enhancing downtown locations. PS21 plans a public session in January to discuss ideas.

ADU Ordinance Heads to City Council

An ordinance allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs), as required by a recently passed state law, goes to the Portsmouth City Council on Dec. 5. The proposed ordinance can found on PlanPortsmouth.com.

For a primer on ADUs, see Accessory Dwelling Units: What they are and why people build them?

Season Sponsors: Piscataqua Savings Bank, Coruway Film Institute
Event Partners: 3S Artspace, City of Portsmouth, Seacoast Media Group, The Sound

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ABOUT PS21: Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century presents ideas and encourages discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouthh, N.H. and the Seacoast. Our goal is to support a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and walkable community compatible withthe principles of smart growth, the historic nature of Portsmouth, and the context of the 21st century. PS21 maintains a blog and e-newsletter at www.ps21.info, and archives video recordings of many events

Islington Street Lab Video & Report Published

islington street lab

Islington Street Lab, a community-based tactical urbanism project that spanned five weeks in May and June 2016, culminated with the temporary transformation of a block of Islington Street from Albany Street to the Bartlett Street intersection in the West End of Portsmouth.

Read the Report

Read the comments

Mike Lydon of Street Plans gave a great presentation on “tactical urbanism,” explaining what it is and why it works, on June 1 in Portsmouth. His talk also covered the process and ideas involved with PS21’s Islington Street Lab, which made changes to Islington Street for four days.

Survey closed, results being tabulated

More than 250 people responded to survey about PS21’s Islington Street Lab,  a “tactical urbanism” experiment done in with the cooperation of West End residents and businesses and the City of Portsmouth. The survey closed Friday afternoon.

The project tested ideas for improving walkability and calming traffic over a one-block stretch of Islington for four days, June 2-5.

PS21 is working to compile the results, which will be published soon.

Crosswalk installation

Two events of note

Information & Comment on NH Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission Draft Report

Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 7:00 PM – 8:45 PM
Seacoast Science Center,
Odiorne Point State Park
570 Ocean Blvd., Rye, NH 03870

A public meeting to provide information, answer questions, and receive comments on the draft report Preparing New Hampshire for Projected Storm Surge, Sea-Level Rise, and Extreme Precipitation. To register, please visit: http://nhcrhc-register.eventbrite.com.   Written comments can also be e-mailed to crhc-comments@rpc-nh.org by June 30.


Citizen Review of Portsmouth’s Draft Master Plan

Small groups organized by Portsmouth Listens will deliberate on the city’s draft master plan Wednesday, June 1 and Tuesday, June 7. The first night will establish initial ideas regarding what participants like, what needs improvement and what might be missing. The second night the groups will share priorities. The informational kickoff session May 26 can be viewed online. Register at www.portsmouthlistens.org.

June 1 – “Exploring Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action for Long-Term Change”

islington street labUrban Planner and Author Mike Lydon At 3S Artspace In Portsmouth June 1; Talk About Tactical Urbanism, Walkability,  and the West End’s Islington Street Lab Project

Cities are changing faster than city planners are able to keep up with. How can city residents be a part of encouraging more rapid, thoughtful change – and what are effective ways for them to participate?

A new movement called “tactical urbanism” provides a way for residents to experiment with pop-up parks, traffic calming, colorful signage and other temporary projects to change an urban area rapidly – but temporarily – so that communities can see how these ideas might work.

Mike Lydon Mike Lydon of the Street Plans Collaborative, the leading figure in the tactical urbanism movement, will speak in Portsmouth June 1st at 6:30 PM at 3S Artspace (RSVP), part of PS21’s series to stimulate discussion about policy and planning issues affecting Portsmouth.

Lydon’s free community talk will focus on how tactical urbanism tools and experiments are helping residents improve neighborhoods in rapidly changing cities around the country, much like what is happening in Portsmouth.

His talk will spotlight a week-long West End project called “Islington Street Lab,” which Lydon has been helping to facilitate with PS21 and the city this spring.

City governments tend to take a long time to change things because first they design, then they present to the public, then they spend a lot of money building something very permanent. Since many of the changes occurring in cities today are dynamic, that process can result in outdated designs, according to Lydon.

“That project area around Islington and Bartlett streets will be a community hands-on example of tactical urbanism. At Lydon’s presentation on June 1st, attendees will see how tactical urbanism projects work and they’ll hear about its colorful, sometimes subversive, history,” said Doug Roberts,  chair of the volunteer group Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century (PS21). ” Later in the week, everyone can  experience it themselves by walking, biking and driving through the Islington Street Lab project area in the West End.”

PS21 events such as this are free and open to the public. Please register for June 1 at www.ps21.info/rsvp/ to help ensure sufficient seating.

(Note: Block Six, the restaurant at 3S, will be open prior to the event; receive a 10% discount that night when you mention PS21.)

PS21 is producing the events with support from the City planning department and input from residents. More than 30 volunteers met with Lydon and the City at a design workshop in May to sketch out ideas for Islington Street near the Bartlett Street intersection.

Using temporary and inexpensive measures like street striping and landscaping, the project will demonstrate what residents and business owners think can be done in the near-term to improve walkability and vitality. Volunteers with the cooperation of the city will help to install the changes on June 2. The community will be invited to visit the area and respond over the following days.

While the Islington Street Lab installation in the West End will go away within a week, community response to the experiment will inform the city’s long-term plans for a makeover of Islington Street, a multi-year, multi-million dollar project that will rebuild the street from Maplewood Avenue to Bartlett Street. It could also serve as a model for other tactical urbanism projects in neighborhoods throughout Portsmouth and the Seacoast.

Updates and more information are available at www.ps21.info

This free event is presented by Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century (PS21) as part of its 2015-2016 series to stimulate discussion about policy and planning issues affecting Portsmouth.

Event Sponsors: New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, City of Portsmouth, Griffin Family Corp., STREET, White Heron Coffee & Tea, VHB, Harbour Light Strategic Marketing, Weekender House, Port One Architects

Season Sponsors: Chinburg Properties, Piscataqua Savings Bank, Seacoast Rotary Club, Coruway Film Institute

Event Partners: Martin Hill Inn, SIS Bank, Signature Escrow & Title Services, Sunoco Islington Street, West End Business Association, Port City Makerspace, 3S Artspace, Seacoast Media Group, The Sound

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ABOUT PS21:  Portsmouth Smart Growth for the 21st Century (PS21) presents ideas and encourages discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouth, N.H. and the Seacoast. Our goal is to support a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and walkable community compatible with the principles of smart growth, the historic nature of Portsmouth, and the context of the 21st century. PS21 maintains a blog and e-newsletter at www.ps21.info, and archives video of many events.

Past events have included: a public talk and workshops on affordable housing with planner Jennifer Hurley; a public talk and workshop on “Walkable Cities” with author and planner Jeff Speck; a presentation by parking expert Michael Manville; a walking tour of the city’s developing North End; an overview of Portsmouth street design by expert and Portsmouth resident Rick Chellman; a conversation about Seacoast transportation modes; a presentation on changing cityscapes by Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Robert Campbell; a workshop with Plan NH about leading Portsmouth to a healthy and vibrant future; a book discussion; and a film screening of the architectural film “The Human Scale.” PS21 also maintains a blog and e-newsletter at ps21.info.

Workshop kicks off Islington Street Lab

islington street labThirty-three volunteers — residents, business owners, and other West End stakeholders — kicked off Islington Street Lab Thursday at a workshop led by Mike Lydon of the Street Plan Collaborative.

islington street lab workshop with mike lydonParticipants examined the challenges posed by Islington Street, focusing on the area near the Bartlett Street intersection and up past White Heron. They brainstormed ways the street might be made safer, more interesting and more attractive, and then considered measures that could developed and inexpensively tested on the street in early June.

Here’s what will happen next.

  • Lydon will create a site plan for Islington/Bartlett based on the workshop, and  submit that plan to the City for consideration re: safety, traffic flow, compliance with city ordinances, and the involvement of City personnel.
  • The plan will be divided into projects, and PS21 will create teams of volunteers based on their skills and resources as identified at the workshop.
  • Team members will gather materials, tools, and accessories; recruit others; promote the project; develop activities, etc.; and prepare for the June implementation.
  • The evening of Wednesday, June 1, Lydon will return to give a public presentation about tactical urbanism at 3S Artspace. Click to RSVP.
  • Thursday, June 2 project volunteers under the direction of Lydon will implement the plan on Islington Street, where it will remain up for several days to a week.

islington street lab

Volunteers wanted for Islington Street Lab

islington street labVolunteers are wanted for PS21’s Islington Street Lab project, a community effort involving the short-term makeover of Islington Street to improve safety, vitality and walkability.

Islington Street Lab will temporarily modify Islington in the general area of White Heron, possibly including the Bartlett Street intersection.  The idea is to inexpensively test ideas. A leading national figure for this type of project, Mike Lydon of the Street Plans Collaborative, will facilitate community involvement, coordinate with the City, and direct the installation.

To get a sense of the project, see what New York City did on a much bigger scale with Times Square and other locations. (Probably the first 5 minutes is relevant.) The Islington Street project may be more like Complete Streets Demo Day in Keene NH, although everything is TBA at the workshop.

Timeline

  • Thursday, May 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m. –  Design workshop at City Hall, Volunteers wanted!
  • Thursday, June 2  – Project implementation on Islington Street, hours TBA

Tactical urbanism projectVolunteers can be business or property owners, activists, artists, area residents, people with special skills such as in landscaping or street design, or people with a strong interest in city planning.

Registration is required for this project. Sign up online!

Also, everyone familiar with Islington Street is invited to read the comments and suggestions made at an April 28 preview event and then add your own.

Islington Street Lab is being done in cooperation with the City of Portsmouth’s Planning and Public Works departments and with the support of many West End businesses.

Event Sponsors: New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, City of Portsmouth, White Heron Coffee & Tea, VHB, Harbour Light Strategic Marketing, Weekender House, Port One Architects, Griffin Family Corp., STREET.

Season Sponsors: Chinburg Properties, Piscataqua Savings Bank, Seacoast Rotary Club, Coruway Film Institute

Event Partners: Martin Hill Inn, SIS Bank, Signature Escrow & Title Services, Sunoco Islington Street, West End Business Association, Port City Makerspace, 3S Artspace, Seacoast Media Group, The Sound

 

Facing Climate Change in Portsmouth

An audience of 200 filled 3S Artspace in Portsmouth Tuesday evening to hear internationally recognized climatologist and UNH professor Cameron Wake talk about climate change, the range of impacts Portsmouth and the Seacoast can expect, and how communities can respond.

During this presentation, Wake suggested that, in addition to the sea-level and temperature rise that is certain to happen, the future could hold several “nasty surprises” that would make things immeasurably worse for humankind.

Two days later, a scientific paper described exactly how one of those could happen. See “Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly”  — NY Times.

Also see the N.H. Business Review article, “Rising Sea Levels Will Affect Seacoast Economy.

Affordable Housing Update

A Smart Growth Approach to Affordable Housing” — Philadelphia-based planner Jennifer Hurley’s look at housing affordability in Portsmouth and the Seacoast — is now on YouTube. Click below to watch the video by Coruway Film Institute or see video page for bookmarked segments.

Affordable housing follow-up. The ‘action’ workshop on Jan. 29  resulted in a dozen ideas for advancing affordable housing in Portsmouth. Committees are being formed to follow up. Read the action idea descriptions and send us email if you’re interested in working on a particular one.

Housing types preference survey. About 150 citizens, planners, builders and city leaders reviewed images of affordable housing styles during Jennifer Hurley’s presentation on Jan. 28 and voted for those they liked the most and the least. See the images and results.

Food for thought. Links to articles and resources related to affordable housing are listed in the right column under “Affordable Housing.”