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 Since many of the changes occurring in cities today are dynamic, that process can result in outdated designs, according to Lydon.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.”

 

Support Community Conversation

We need your help to keep the smart-growth conversation going in Portsmouth! Over the past two years, PS21 has invited the likes of Jeff Speck, Mike Manville and Robert Campbell to share thoughts with us on how cities grow best. These events have brought us together, started us talking, and given us ideas about how to keep our city the place we all want to live.

It costs money to bring people here and to host the events. Would you please consider helping us with a contribution of any size? We appreciate the support and knowing that you value what we’re doing. One hundred percent of contributions support our events.

Coming in 2016: Affordable housing expert Jennifer Hurley January 28-29; climate change’s impact on the Seacoast with Cameron Wake in March; and an exciting “tactical urbanism” experiment in the West End in May.

Please help us keep these vital community conversations going by making a donation today to PS21.

Here’s how to donate:

Thank you for helping ensure that we can all enjoy a vibrant, sustainable, and livable Portsmouth in the 21st century and well beyond!

Robert Campbell on the Art of Placemaking

Robert Campbell, one of the country’s most respected architectural critics, talked about architecture with insight and humor at a PS21-sponsored presentation Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Robert Campbell, Architect and JournalistAn architect himself, Campbell described architecture as the art placemaking before an audience of 200 at 3S Artspace. Campbell decried designs that discourage people from congregating and interacting, and at times spoke favorably about streetscapes in Portsmouth.

Robert Campbell is a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his work as architecture critic of the Boston Globe. A resident of Cambridge, he was a regular columnist for the magazine Architectural Record for many years and is the co-author, with photographer Peter Vanderwarker, of Cityscapes of Boston: An American City Through Time, which the Chicago Tribune says “belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who cares about the fate of the American city.”

Support for “Architecture Is the Art of Making Places” was provided by Lassel Architects and Manypenny Murphy Architecture. The PS21 series is presented in partnership with: Piscataqua Savings Bank, Seacoast Rotary Club of Portsmouth, and Coruway Film Institute. Media sponsors are Seacoast Media Group and The Sound.

(Read Portsmouth Herald article.)

Two PS21 Events Now on Video

“Seacoast Transportation – New Modes of Getting Around” (5/12/2015)

The moderator is Bill Lyons, a principal technical adviser in transportation planning at the Volpe Center, the U.S. National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge. Panelists are Rad Nichols, executive director of the COAST bus system; Steve Pesci, of COAST and UNH Wildcat Transit bus systems ; and Scott Bogle, senior transportation planner at the Rockingham Planning Commission.

“Street Smarts:  Managing Parking, Traffic, and the Pedestrian Experience in Portsmouth” (4/30/2015)

Rick Chellman is a consultant on street design, traffic planning and urban design with more than 30 years experience.

Parking Policies for a Successful Downtown

What’s the first thing a city should do if it has a parking shortage?

At a PS21 event on April 2, Michael Manville said the city should “play with the prices” to get people to change when and where they park.

“It’s probably the first ten things you try,” he told an audience of about 100 at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. “If you’re still not getting the return you want, you would think about adding supply.”

The question was one of many parking policy questions Manville, assistant professor of City & Regional Planning at Cornell University,  addressed during a presentation “Parking and Downtown Vitality” at 3S Artspace. Manville studies studies  the relationships between transportation and land use, and local public finance, with a particular emphasis on urban parking.

The presentation was funded in part by the Geoffrey E. Clark and Martha Fuller Clark Donor Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation.

Over the course of an hour, Manville built the case that properly priced parking is crucial to the success of downtowns.

He began by reminding the audience of the purpose of parking — simply put, to assure drivers they will find a parking spot. That’s why cities aim for 85 percent parking occupancy, rather than 100 percent. With examples and evidence ranging from Tulsa to California to Portsmouth, Manville explored the relationship between parking and downtown economies and how cities try to strike a balance between parking that is easy to find, cheap, and a reliable source of revenue. (Hint: you can’t have all three).

WATCH THE VIDEO

The event was the first in a PS21 series this spring that will look at what other communities have learned about transportation solutions for now and for the future.

The Coruway Film Institute, a series sponsor, recorded the presentation April 2 and Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.

(SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, April 28. Rick Chellman, who consults nationally and internationally about street design, and lives in downtown Portsmouth, will discuss two-way streets, on-street parking and the pedestrian experience in Portsmouth. )

Islington Street Corridor Plan Debuts After Citizen Input

After several days of discussions with residents and official, Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative unveiled conceptual plan for the future of the West End/Islington Street Corridor (Feb. 23).

The plan looks far into the future and envisions a different, more cohesive and developed area. TPUDC will go away to polish the plan and then develop zoning guidelines down to the level of individual buildings. The new “character-based” zoning plan needs to be approved by the City Council before it can go into effect.