The second Bell St. Park meeting was held this evening at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s Paccar Pavilion. The first meeting was a raucous occasion. Most of the community came prepared to let off some steam about the continual drug dealing and crime problems that have plagued the neighborhood for the last couple of years. The first meeting was overwhelmingly focused on safety.
The second meeting consisted of reviewing the basic design principles that SvR Design Company was utilizing as a basis for the first mock-ups that the public has seen of the park concepts. SvR presented two basic design strategies. The first they termed as “Sluicing”. This is a throwback to the fact that Belltown used to be a massive hill until being sluiced into the ocean (Go Green Ancestors!). The second option was codenamed a much less phonetically catchy “Measured Improvement”.
At this point, I’m really not going to try and walk you through the design principles of each option. Check out the embedded flickr set that I dorkily took during the entire meeting. Just, keep in mind, that for some unfortunate reason the two options were mistakenly labeled opposite. Sluicing = the angular smorgasbord. Measured Improvement = the sensible right angle fest.
The most important goal of this project should be to attract a steady stream of people. This is the key factor that will solve crime. Both options are going to have the same net effect on the amount of people walking through Bell Street. It is my opinion that either option will be a nice place to walk through. However, as we’ve all learned from the beautiful, yet ineffective Growing Vine Street, it doesn’t matter if you have a bunch of fancy planters and Frank Lloyd Wright water features – it’s not enough to get people to stick around.
What we need is infrastructure which will enable economic development and new business. The better of the two options for this goal is the “Measured Movement” option. The Measured plan calls for large areas of community gathering spaces and expansive open spaces. This is wonderful. I love the design. The biggest gripe that I have, is that the whole damned project is on the wrong side o the street! Unfortunately, there is little room for businesses to move in and take advantage of the larger sidewalk space. So, kiss the dreams of expansive Las Ramblas cafe seating goodbye.
I feel like an old codger who hasn’t taken his fiber here. But, I really believe that this project needs to attract new business to be a true success. Otherwise, I’m afraid the fears of the community are correct. This project could be a massive opportunity pissed into the wind.