[ ARCH 372, LA 236/338, UP378 Spring 2003 ]

Good Neighborhood Project

South End as Small-Town Neighborhood

According to Brower*, small town neighborhoods are well-defined, self-contained and centered around local businesses and community institutions. These neighborhoods nurture social interactions between residents by offering "facilities which allow a blending of home and public life," (p147). Such facilities include commercial, educational, religious, recreational, and entertainment which are a source of common identity for residents. Small town neighborhoods are characterized by stability and lifetime residence by people of all life stages. Streetscape and infrastructure Topics discussed reflect the concerns voiced by South End residents. The south End is currently known as an "inner city without and outer city."By enhancing the streetscape and infrastructure utilizing small town methods of development, growth in the South End could be more focused on implementing a variety of different styles, rather than being

Vision Statement: Visualize the South End as a small town neighborhood where all generations can reside for a lifetime and benefit from the social interactions within the community.

Organizational Capacity (not portrayed on boards)

The organizational capacity of the small town plan consists mainly of resident commitment to change. This means that groups like SENDO, and other involved citizens have the responsibility of spreading the word to the community. Keeping residents abreast of what is going on in the community, interested and involved with the plan, and getting feedback is a major part of the process. Without doing this, the plan will obviously not meet the expectations of the residents.

Community Services (not portrayed on boards)

According to the South End Revitalization Plan, SENDO is interested in initiating several new programs in their community. All of these programs support the small-town plan. Adult education support, after school programs, a community center, and senior services are all services the community can provide if they are willing to get involved. A reliable form of public transportation (a bus system, most likely) should be implemented in the South End with stops along the major streets in order to allow for easy access to the community college and other opportunities. The after school programs could take the form of organized sports, tutoring, or just general day care. The services could be housed at neighborhood churches, schools, or the soon to be renovated Mary Brown Center. In a small town neighborhood plan, a community center is the place where a neighborhood comes together for recreation and socialization. The South End is desperately lagging in this type of universal space where all the residents can come together (that is if the churches are excluded). Senior programs would also be incorporated into this community center. Possibly a program combining seniors with children could be beneficial in the case of the South End. All of these proposals' successes hinge on the renovation of the existing Mary Brown Center and the participation of the residents.

Community Safety (not portrayed on boards)

Feeling safe within one's community is an issue that is integral in the small town neighborhood plan. In a small town neighborhood, a clean, stable, and friendly environment is maintained by the residents and enforced by police presence. Presently there are issues with infiltration of outsiders coming in to the South End to conduct illegal activities. When a neighborhood has clean and well-defined boundary and neighbors who are familiar with each other, the residents are more able to point out who belongs in their neighborhood and who could possibly cause a disturbance. An entryway, signifying the entrance points into the community, could clarify its boundaries which already exist. Adding well-lit sidewalks with a minimum width of five feet would allow for more resident presence on the street and decrease unwanted activity. Assuming the existing community center will be renovated, various programs such as watch system, police presence, and overall maintenance of the public spaces including parks and open space might be encouraged to generate and develop the area into a safer environment.

Streetscape and Infrastructure (boards 2-4)

The foundation of a healthy small town is an appealing streetscape that builds upon a well-configured infrastructure. Programs that seek to enhance a resident's surroundings must cover a wide scope of improvements including: clean & manageable streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters/viaducts, public right of way, alleys, parking facilities, sewers, drainage/storm water systems, and traffic controls. The aesthetics of the streetscape don't necessarily have to blend in to the surrounding areas according to Brower's definition. The streetscape is the most visible reflection of the vitality of an area. With a renewed streetscape, South End residents can take pride in their surroundings and the area will be in a better position for continued growth. A good infrastructure and streetscape could potentially increase public safety; improve a town's accessibility; attract and retain future residents and businesses; and provide greater opportunities to work with local governments to acquire funding which could be used to further improve the South End.

Housing (boards 2-4)

A small town neighborhood plan includes housing for people of all life stages and promotes neighborly interaction. The inner core of the South End, surrounding the intersection of 15th & Piggott, includes a mix of commercial and two- and three-family houses. This housing would be particularly attractive for young professionals and the elderly with such neighborhood amenities as the local commercial district and Lincoln Park within walking distance. Outside the core area, in the "middle ring", affordable single-family homes would provide houses with yards for young families. The outer ring includes larger single-family houses on more spacious lots. These diverse alternatives allow for greater opportunity for home ownership and provide affordable homes for people of different means and life stages. This plan also designates the inclusion of front porches and smaller setbacks from the street to promote social interaction between neighbors.

Parks and Open Space (board 5)

In revitalizing Lincoln Park we would like to create a safer and healthier park that will be used for recreation and that can be seen as a landmark for the South End neighborhood. We want to add a large pavilion that could be used for neighborhood and school events or for entertainment. Because South End is a tight, close-knit neighborhood, we also want to add more areas for picnics and family events that would attract more people to the park and bring the community together. Improving the landscape of the park to make it more aesthetically inviting to the community would be accomplished by rebuilding the walkways up to and within the park. More distinct paths around the Vietnam Memorial and leading up to the Mary Brown Center should be made more aesthetically pleasing to those living around the park and within the community. Any and all changes made to Lincoln Park will require some input from the community to ensure the park's upkeep. A group of residents should be organized to promote the use and maintenance of the park if the city is unwilling to take responsibility for the park. Lincoln Park, as well as other parks around the South End, would operate as an active gathering place where residents can come together.

*Sydney Brower, Good Neighborhoods: A Study of In-town and Suburban Residential Environments (Westport, Conn: Praeger, 1996).