With several hundred vacant buildings in Newburgh, NY owned by the city, the city needs to take drastic action to stop the decay and reverse the momentum immediately.
While the excuses of lost jobs, crime and the effects of urban renewal can be reflected upon, the lack of motivated intelligent and experienced direction is at the heart of the city’s failures. I too hear the voices of ‘oh I hope someone renovates this majestic structure one day’ and while everyone can share this sentiment it just isn’t enough to affect actual change, for if the city does not drastically modify its approach and attitude all those structures which hold so much potential will eventually need to be torn down, leaving more ‘urban renewal’ effects dotted throughout the city and thus further contributing to the decline of the city. The dam has broken and the water is all but gone. First step, repair and strengthen the dam in a way that is more self-maintaining, in order to prevent decay or a breach in the future… so the water may once again fill in the cavity.
The following are the five most important things the city can do to begin to stop the negative momentum and change people’s perception of the city as one of opportunity.
A followup on the SimpleTwig article ‘Time, Not Distance, Determines Development of Cities‘ we need to take a moment to review the existing density of New York City, as an example to show that people reside in the area that physically puts them closer to where they work, in this case Manhattan. While this is probably obvious to most, one can not assume everyone understands the organic growth of cities.
While it would be nice for everyone to live and fit in Manhattan, or for that matter in a location that has a view of it’s beautiful skyline, it isn’t always possible given the cost of property, and, the lack of availability of housing stock. This means, with an ever growing population, alternatives must be addressed.
Time, that is the time it takes to travel to a job, determines where people focus on in their search for a place to live. Thus a city like New York City has it’s own CBD (Central Business Districts) of Midtown and Downtown, with extensions on the upper East/West Sides and infill throughout, along with growing CBD developments along the river banks of the Hudson and East Rivers, especially with regards to Newark, NJ and Downtown Brooklyn, NY.
When it comes to choices for a residence, there is a curve of acceptable ‘time to commute’ for a particular job. Those on the outskirts of this curve might travel 2 or 3 hours each way, not because they want to but only as a necessary evil in their life to pursue their own interest and priorities. This is why the current commuter system fails, in that providing express service is just not enough to harness the potential of land just beyond the more acceptable half-hour commute, and why there needs to be ‘super express’ service to new core areas to help increase housing and opportunities while providing the ‘time connection’ people demand for their daily lives.
It isn’t enough to talk about buildings, or streetscapes, or general urban planning directions to achieve success. One has to understand that it is imperative to provide opportunity and positive attitudes in Newburgh in order to attract ‘new money’ and investment in the community, ideally translating into new residents who can help sustain the economic minimums for individual households and thus result in new sales and property tax income for the city. Without a change of attitude especially with regards to violent crime including burglary (which undermines a sense of security) people will not feel safe and thus will not risk their own lives to live in Newburgh. This isn’t to say Newburgh isn’t filled with so many wonderful people, festivals, events and even a symphony. It’s to say that the urbanism of the CBD is clearly suffering and needs the kind of focus to make the kind of change happen that will help those who feel stuck in what is sometimes referred to the Newburgh slums. References to ‘slums’ must stop, and those who use the term should be informed to understand how it is doing more harm to families living in those communities than doing good for the sense of ‘coolness’.
There are a lot of amazing looking images of buildings out there in the world, shell structures, large glass structures, open spacious plans, but are they really legitimate? While they might look cool, I’m frankly surprised by the attention they get because typically I can see through the smoke and realize how just inappropriate they are. Why? Read more →