One of Evansville's greatest treasures is its vast amount of nature preserves. No matter what part of town you're in, there's always a good park or nature preserve just down the road. As a firm believer in the principles of smart growth, I like seeing some land developed while having other land left untouched depending on how much wildlife and forest occupies the land.
Three of the main parks/nature preserves in Evansville are Burdette Park, Howell Wetlands, and Wesselman Woods. All three parks have different strengths and weaknesses so I will address each one individually.
In my opinion, Burdette Park does a wonderful job of getting people intertwined with nature. While at the park, you can play miniature golf, swim, play soccer or basketball, and even spend the night. Overall, it's a great park to build off of for future improvements. What do I propose......
1. Expand the swimming pool: Burdette's pool has been around for quite some time and adding a lazy river, more slides, and possible a wave pool will help keep the interest of those who are maybe tired of seeing the same thing every year.
2. Link the two lakes: Linking the two lakess at the entrance will provide for a better entrance design and will allow for small paddle boats and canoes to have enough room on the lakes.
3. Set up a bread stand: Many people who go to Burdette Park are encountered by ducks as soon as they enter the park but have no bread to feed them because they forgot. Conversely, Burdette's ducks don't have any bread on days when there are few guests. Burdette should set up a bread stand where the profits off bread sales would be invested on projects within the park. Burdette should also set up small sprinkler like devices that shoot bread or other food out onto the lake to keep the ducks from starving on days of few guests.
The Howell Wetlands have been a pleasant addition to the Evansville community. Exotic and unique ducks, fish, and birds can be spotted most of the time at the wetlands. I find the decks that walk out on to the lakes to be the best part of the wetlands. What should the Howell Wetlands do to improve....
1. Set up a nature center similar to the one at Wesselman Woods: An interactive center would go a long way in getting more people interested in the wetlands.
2. Expand the park to the other side of Tekoppel Rd: There is plenty of forest, creeks, and wildlife on the otherside of Tekoppel Rd that would fit in good with the current Howell Wetlands. Small trails could be set up in them that would connect to the current trails.
3. Link the lakes: Like Burdette, Howell Wetlands would be much nicer and navigable if all links and ponds were connected.
Of the three, I would have to say that the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve is the most unique. Evansville is very lucky to have a nature preserve of that size located amongst a stadium, a mall, and a busy set of roads. Wesselman Woods also has a good recycling program, an interpretive center, baseball fields, and golf course. What does Wesselman Woods need to do to expand on its success...
1. Build chalets: Those who are interested in bird watching, nature in general, and wildlife would probably like to spend the night surrounded by the Wesselman Woods habitat.
2. Expand the nature preserve: Eliminate the golf course and plant more trees in its place. While doing this, the nature preserve should sell plaques to each tree ( the Philadelphia Eagles have done this) with the proceeds being invested at the nature preserve.
3. Schedule more events: Wesselman Woods puts on many quality events. Expanding the schedule will keep more people interested and bring in more people at the same time.
While funding may be tight, I believe that if these three parks do these 9 small things they will be even better parks.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Since the LST has arrived, it's been no secret that Evansville would be a good location for a WWII museum which I myself have talked about in a previous post. However, many locals are probably unaware of the rich history the Evansville area has had in other wars such as the Civil War, the War of 1812, and WWI.
Did you know....
* On July 18, 1862, Newburgh was the first town north of the Mason-Dixon line to be captured by the Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Colonel Adam R. Johnson, with a partisan band, crossed the Ohio River and confiscated supplies and ammunition without a shot being fired.
* On March 27, 1812, Hugh McGary, Junior, bought land for the settlement which he called McGary's Landing. In 1814, to attract more people, McGary renamed his village "Evansville" in honor of Colonel Robert Morgan Evans, an officer under then General William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812.
* At age 21, Evansville native James Bethel Gresham became the first American casualty of World War I. He is buried at Locust Hill Cemetery.
As you can see, Evansville has a rich history in several wars, not just WWII. As a result, I am in favor of a WWII museum with the LST being located on the current Port of Evansville location, but I also believe Evansville needs to make residents and tourists fully aware of its history in the three wars mentioned. So what specifically am I proposing?
One of the war tributes to Indiana veterans that has caught my attention is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit it and I can't get over just how great of a monument it is. At the monument, you can go to the top to look out and see all of Indianapolis, visit the gift shop, sit on the large concrete stairs, or relax next to the large water ponds at the base. Even more eye catching are the buildings that form a large circle around it. In fact, almost all of the buildings in downtown Indianapolis revolve around the "Circle Centre" plaza. Malls, restaurants, office buildings, etc have set up shop around it.
When I saw the monument it got me wondering, why can't Evansville create a monument where tourists can go up in it to view Evansville under a statue of Robert Evans sitting atop it with a museum about the three wars and a gift shop inside? The statue of Robert Evans would be overlooking his city just like William Penn does in Philadelphia ( this plan is very similar to my Benjamin Bosse statue proposal). At the base would be a monument to James Bethel Gresham.
I would also like to see a Civil War interpretive center with reenactments being staged each year with the history of Evansville and Newburgh incorporated into them.
Most importantly, Evansville has plenty of room to implement this downtown. Why not place the monument plaza behind the Civic Center, next to the Old Courthouse, or between the Four Freedoms Monument and the Evansville Museum?
Indianapolis took full advantage of its rich history in the service, will Evansville?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Although Ellis Park isn't in the Evansville metro city limits ( O how I wish it was), it still plays a pivotal role in turning around the area. It is in a great position off of 41, it will plan a major role in converting the whole Twin Bridges area into an area where people will want to visit, and it has a lot of history.
I will admit that I am no fan of horse racing. I went to several horse races in Lexington and just never understood why it still exists. It's slow/boring, it's borderline unethical on the horses, it's a dying sport, and it's not as popular as auto racing. I will take the Indy 500 over the Kentucky Derby anyday.
It seems like every year we hear that Ellis Park will be forced to close, yet somehow it is able to hold on for another year. It's time to convert to an entertainment complex that won't rely on the horse racing industry. What should be done at Ellis Park?
It seems pretty obvious to me that Evansville is a huge NASCAR town. No matter where you go, you're always walking by or standing next to someone with a shirt, hat, or jacket with their favorite driver on it. It's time Evansville took advantage of its deep love for NASCAR.
Already in five locations, NASCAR SpeedParks are a blast. At a SpeedPark, you can rock climb, play miniature golf, play video games, compete in laser tag, and race Go Karts for an affordable price. Ellis Park is a perfect place for this. The track is already there, the fan amenities are already there, and it's big enough for all the attractions a NASCAR SpeedPark would bring in with it.
I wouldn't stop there though. Since Ellis Park has quite a large amount of space, I would add one more track for a Richard Petty Driving Experience to offer rides and classes on. The track could be in the shape of a short track with high banking, a road course, or a super speedway.
Lastly, I would place a NASCAR Cafe on the site as well. A NASCAR Cafe would be keeping with the theme and would serve the area well due to the fact that there are currently no other restaurants in the area.
I can't help but feel that it is pretty obvious that a NASCAR SpeedPark offers a lot more to the region than a horse racing track, not to mention it won't be on life support each year if a gambling bill isn't passed. It's time to build a NASCAR SpeedPark on the Ellis Park site.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
In previous posts, I talked about Evansville's need for high speed rail and PRT (Personal Rapid Transit). Another form of transportation that needs to be implemented in the Evansville metro area is CPT which stands for Cable Propelled Transit.
This link here will walk you through the technology http://gondolaproject.com/2009/11/07/basic-lesson-1-what-is-cable-propelled-transit/
Basically, CPT needs to be implemented in Evansville because...
1. It's the cheapest form of transportation
2. It's the safest form of transportation
3. It's clean & green
4. It pays for itself
In a nutshell, I argue the same points for CPT that I argue for PRT. Both are better than the car due to the fact that they are more reliable, kill less people, and cost less to build among many other things.
The thing that excites me the most about CPT is how ripe the Evansville area is for it. With its many hills and valleys, CPT could become a city defining attribute for Evansville. So what locations do I have in mind for CPT?
When implementing CPT, Evansville needs to take care of the main routes first. This entails placing CPT down the center of the Lloyd Expressway and down the center of Green River Road, 41, and First Ave. These main routes will ease traffic congestion, hopefully eliminating it completely in the future.
One radical idea that I wish Evansville would consider would be establishing a theme park across the river. Ideally, it would be nice if Kentucky would transfer the land over to Indiana like they did to downtown Evansville after the Earthquake of 1812. Evansville could then straighten the Ohio River forming an island between Kentucky and Indiana. A theme park and village would be set up on the island and guests would be taken to the island from downtown Evansville on CPT. A station could be set up at the top of almost any downtown building with cables going across the scenic Ohio River similar to what New York City does with Roosevelt Island.
Will Evansville ever give the island and CPT a chance? Only time will tell.
Monday, April 26, 2010
This past month, there has been a proposal to demolish Roberts Stadium to build 4 youth baseball fields that will be coupled with 4 other fields to make a complex that will also have batting cages and training facilities. While the plan looks great on the surface, there are a few tweaks that I believe need to be made.
First of all, the plan is in the wrong location. As I've said in a previous post on this blog, Roberts Stadium should not be demolished. It is historic and still has great potential to be either a Jehovah Witness church or a waterpark resort. So where should the baseball fields be placed?
In a perfect world, I would place the baseball fields next to Garvin Park. I would demolish some of the dilapidated manufacturing plants next to the park and place them there. Why? There are several reasons for doing this.
1. There is more land next to Garvin: The land from Garvin Park all the way down to First Ave should be easy to obtain minus the Humane Society building. Furthermore, they would elminate the current eyesores that are down there.
2. The design would look nicer: Imagine all of the youth baseball fields next to a Coney Island development which is settled off of Pigeon Creek. That is the potential that the Garvin Park site has. Also, Garvin Park is already famous for having the third oldest baseball ballpark as well as several youth baseball fields already built. The new fields would fit in perfectly.
3. The Garvin Park plan has more potential for surrounding development: It is my belief that if a baseball complex is built next to Garvin, you will begin seeing a massive redevelopment of the area. As noted from a previous post, I see baseball museums, old time diners and shops, Coney Island attractions, and cable cars going down Main Street.
On a side note, my second location choice would be the state hospital grounds. Whether it's Garvin Park or the state hospital grounds, demolishing Roberts Stadium should not be an option.
Today's entertainment industry is desperate for themes. Entertainment districts are popping up everywhere with different themes. Kansas City has the Power & Light District, New Orleans has the French Quarter, Indianapolis has the Canal District, Washington D.C has the Old Navy Yards District, and Sacramento is creating the Railyards District. To my knowledge, no urban city has taken full advantage of a western ghost town theme for an entertainment district.
Despite their distinctive qualities, very few buildings outside of theme parks have replicated the western ghost town image. Evansville could be one of the first if not the first. Even though Evansville is not west of the Mississippi, it is still prime for this theme given that it has already been named an All-American town with a mixture of everything. So where should a western ghost town be placed?
In my opinion, the Jacobsville area, which is the old housing district north of the Lloyd Expressway and east of Berry Plastics, would fit the bill perfectly. It consists of mostly low rise houses, its buildings are already aging significantly, and it is in need of something like this to revitalize itself. If Evansville could convert the Jacobsville area into something like this, it would not only create a much cleaner image for the city but it would also successfully connect downtown with the rest of the city.
What types of things would you find in Evansville's Western Ghost Town? You would see horses on carriages walking by on brick roads, you would see buildings decked in light brown signs with western script on them, and you would see retail shops that would sell western apparel such as boots, hats, and spurs.
Overall, the ghost town would be original, it would be unique, and it would bring people into the core of Evansville which is never a bad thing.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Recently I ran across this idea and thought it would be a great idea for the Tri-State given its rich history and resources in agriculture...
It would seem to me that if Evansville/Southwestern Indiana was serious about improving its vast agriculture riches, they would invest a great deal of time, money, and effort into this future technology.
A Columbia professor believes that converting skyscrapers into crop farms could help reduce global warming and make New York cleaner. It’s a vision straight out of Futurama—but here’s how it might work.
By Lisa Chamberlain
Urban farming has always been a slightly quixotic endeavor. From the small animal farm that was perched on the roof of the Upper West Side’s Ansonia apartment building in the early 1900s (fresh eggs delivered by bellhop!) to community gardens threatened by real-estate development, the dream of preserving a little of the country in the city is a utopian one. But nobody has ever dreamed as big as Dr. Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental sciences and microbiology at Columbia University, who believes that “vertical farm” skyscrapers could help fight global warming.
Imagine a cluster of 30-story towers on Governors Island or in Hudson Yards producing fruit, vegetables, and grains while also generating clean energy and purifying wastewater. Roughly 150 such buildings, Despommier estimates, could feed the entire city of New York for a year. Using current green building systems, a vertical farm could be self-sustaining and even produce a net output of clean water and energy.
Despommier began developing the vertical-farming concept six years ago (his research can be found at verticalfarm.com), and he has been contacted by scientists and venture capitalists from the Netherlands to Dubai who are interested in establishing a Center for Urban Sustainable Agriculture, either independently or within Columbia. He estimates it could take a working group of agricultural economists, architects, engineers, agronomists, and urban planners five to ten years to figure out how to marry high-tech agricultural practices with the latest sustainable building technology.
What does this have to do with climate change? The professor believes that only by allowing significant portions of the Earth’s farmland to return to forest do we have a real chance of stabilizing climate and weather patterns. Merely reducing energy consumption—the centerpiece of the proposal Al Gore recently presented to Congress—will at best slow global warming. Allowing forests to regrow where crops are now cultivated, he believes, would reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as least as much as more-efficient energy consumption.
There is another reason to develop indoor farming: exploding population growth. By 2050, demographers estimate there will be an additional 3 billion people (a global total of 9.2 billion). If current farming practices are maintained, extra landmass as large as Brazil would have to be cultivated to feed them. Yet nearly all the land that can produce food is already being farmed—even without accounting for the possibility of losing more to rising sea levels and climate change (which could turn arable land into dust bowls).
Depending on the crops being grown, a single vertical farm could allow thousands of farmland acres to be permanently reforested. For the moment, these calculations remain highly speculative, but a real-life example offers a clue: After a strawberry farm in Florida was wiped out by Hurricane Andrew, the owners built a hydroponic farm. By growing strawberries indoors and stacking layers on top of each other, they now produce on one acre of land what used to require 30 acres.
Why build vertical farms in cities? Growing crops in a controlled environment has benefits: no animals to transfer disease through untreated waste; no massive crop failures as a result of weather-related disasters; less likelihood of genetically modified “rogue” strains entering the “natural” plant world. All food could be grown organically, without herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers, eliminating agricultural runoff. And 80 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050. Cities already have the density and infrastructure needed to support vertical farms, and super-green skyscrapers could supply not just food but energy, creating a truly self-sustaining environment.
Like the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona, a real vertical farm will probably require a utopian philanthropist with deep pockets. In the eighties, Edward Bass spent $200 million of his own money to construct the Biosphere. A smaller and less complex vertical farm would probably cost that much to build today and could be funded by someone from a country where arable land is already in short supply, such as Japan, Iceland, or more likely Dubai. Despommier is convinced the first vertical farm will exist within fifteen years—and the irony is, oil money could very well build it.
1. The Solar Panel
Most of the vertical farm’s energy is supplied by the pellet power system (see over). This solar panel rotates to follow the sun and would drive the interior cooling system, which is used most when the sun’s heat is greatest.
2. The Wind Spire
An alternative (or a complement) to solar power, conceived by an engineering professor at Cleveland State University. Conventional windmills are too large for cities; the wind spire uses small blades to turn air upward, like a screw.
3. The Glass Panels
A clear coating of titanium oxide collects pollutants and prevents rain from beading; the rain slides down the glass, maximizing light and cleaning the pollutants. Troughs collect runoff for filtration.
4. The Control Room
The vertical-farm environment is regulated from here, allowing for year-round, 24-hour crop cultivation.
5. The Architecture
Inspired by the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. Circular design uses space most efficiently and allows maximum light into the center. Modular floors stack like poker chips for flexibility.
6. The Crops
The vertical farm could grow fruits, vegetables, grains, and even fish, poultry, and pigs. Enough, Despommier estimates, to feed 50,000 people annually.
The vertical farm doesn’t just grow crops indoors; it also generates its own power from waste and cleans up sewage water.
1. The Evapotranspiration Recovery System
Nestled inside the ceiling of each floor, its pipes collect moisture, which can be bottled and sold.
2. The Pipes
Work much like a cold bottle of Coke that “sweats” on a hot day: Super-cool fluid attracts plant water vapors, which are then collected as they drip off (similar systems are in use on a small scale). Despommier estimates that one vertical farm could capture 60 million gallons of water a year.
3. Black-Water Treatment System
Wastewater taken from the city’s sewage system is treated through a series of filters, then sterilized, yielding gray water—which is not drinkable but can be used for irrigation. (Currently, the city throws 1.4 billion gallons of treated wastewater into the rivers each day.) The Solaire building in Battery Park City already uses a system like this.
4. The Crop Picker
Monitors fruits and vegetables with an electronic eye. Current technology, called a Reflectometer, uses color detection to test ripeness.
5. The Field
Maximization of space is critical, so in this rendering there are two layers of crops (and some hanging tomatoes). If small crops are planted, there might be up to ten layers per floor.
6. The Pool
Runoff from irrigation is collected here and piped to a filtration system.
7. The Feeder
Like an ink-jet printer, this dual-purpose mechanism directs programmed amounts of water and light to individual crops.
8. The Pellet Power System
Another source of power for the vertical farm, it turns nonedible plant matter (like corn husks, for example) into fuel. Could also process waste from New York’s 18,000 restaurants.
9 to 11. The Pellets
Plant waste is processed into powder (9), then condensed into clean-burning fuel pellets (10), which become steam power (11). At least 60 pellet mills in North America already produce more than 600,000 tons of fuel annually, and a 3,400-square-foot house in Idaho uses pellets to generate its own electricity.
Copyright © 2007, New York Magazine Holdings LLC.
It would seem to me that if Evansville/Southwestern Indiana was serious about improving its vast agriculture riches, they would invest a great deal of time, money, and effort into this future technology.
There are very few football stadiums in high school football that can compare to Evansville's Reitz Bowl. With a capacity over 12,000, Reitz Bowl can be very intimidating for incoming opponents. Over the years, several changes have made Reitz Bowl what it is today. These include adding a scoredboard, artificial turf, an irrigation system, new lockers, a new fieldhouse, and a brand new sound system. So what could Reitz Bowl do to improve itself even more?
First things first, Reitz Bowl needs to see itself as not just a stadium for Reitz High School but for other teams and events as well. It is large enough for minor league football and college football. Although UE would probably never consider playing at Reitz Bowl, I believe that USI would consider it if they ever decide to add football to their athletic program. With several new minor league football leagues making attempts to get off the ground ( UFL, AAFL, National Gridiron League, & New USFL), Reitz Bowl needs to renovate to attract one of these teams. Reitz Bowl could also go after more events like Drums on the Ohio and could even loan itself out as an amphitheatre for a few days a year.
The first minor thing that needs to be added Reitz Bowl is permanent blue seats on the home side. Although the current blue painted concrete looks good, in reality, this concrete hurts some people's backs thus the need for seats. It would also make Reitz Bowl look even more professional.
Next, expansion of Reitz Bowl needs to be considered. There should be permanent seating going all the way around the stadium. Reitz Bowl is in perfect position to form a horse shoe or cookie cutter stadium design.
After that, there needs to be a few luxury boxes put in. Although it is only high school football, there is still demand for a few small and affordable luxury boxes, especially if other events are tacked on.
Lastly, I heard a rumor that a few years ago Mead Johnson Nutritionals offered to place a roof over the bowl if they would sell naming rights to them. Supposedly it was rejected due to worries over history. If true, this plan needs to be revisited. To please the people who like the name Reitz Bowl, it should be named Mead Johnson's Field at Reitz Bowl. A roof over the bowl will allow for more events to take place inside it. This, in my opinion, would make Reitz Bowl the greatest high school stadium in the nation.
Although they are far from downtown Evansville, the twin bridges serve as both a landmark and gateway to the Evansville region. While they provide a crucial connection for motorists, they have failed to attract tourists, pedestrians, and mass transit.
With the announcement of I-69 (I don't support it) and the planning of a national high speed rail network, it's time to give the twin towers a massive overhaul beginning with the design. Yes, the twin towers do have somewhat of a good design now but it can be much better. Designs similiar to the ones in Oklahoma City, Mackinac Island, Brooklyn, and San Francisco should be taken into account when crafting a new design.
& San Francisco....
While I am not in favor yet of a specific design, there are a few things I would like to see on the new design including the incorporation of the current design into a larger design.
Regardless of what bridge design you may like, a modern day functional bridge must contain or set an area aside for a mass transit route, a pedestrian sidewalk and viewing area, and room for broken down motorists.
It would also help if the areas at the base of the bridge(s) were developed more such as the entrance to Henderson and the Ellis Park area.
There is no doubt in my mind that if the twin bridges were ever renovated to be the region's icon that they have the potential to be they would do wonders for the area. They could result in the development of a nice park, the expansion of downtown Evansville, and the unifying of Tri-State cities. One can only hope that the department of transportation will consider renovating the bridges.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
If you have ever had time to wonder through downtown Evansville, you will see many things representing many cultures. Of all the things downtown, what one country would you say downtown reminds you of best? I would say Japan. Maybe it's the Pagoda, maybe it's the WWII history, maybe it's the presence of Toyota, maybe it's just me. Although I'm constantly seeing images similar to those found in Japan, I still think Evansville needs to strengthen its connection to Japan.
A few years ago, Evansville took another step forward to strengthening its connection to Japan by obtaining a sister city. Tochigi-Shi, Japan was selected as Evansville's sister city. But what other things does Evansville need to do to celebrate its resemblance to Japan.
First of all, I am a fan of attaching different cultures to different U.S cities such as Egypt to Memphis & Greece to Nashville. Attaching Japan to Evansville is definitely an idea that should be considered on the large scale.
Thinking on the small scale, Evansville needs to do several things. The first thing Evansville needs to do is place a sushi bar on the downtown riverfront. It is unfortunate that an entrepreneur hsa been unable to take advantage of the amazing looking Pagoda to establish a Japanese eatery. A sushi bar should be placed within a few blocks of the Pagoda in order to maximize effectiveness.
Another thing to consider for Evansville is the eventual construction of a Japantown. Most people have heard of a Chinatown but few are aware of the Japantowns found in cities such as San Jose and San Francisco. Although the demographics may not be there yet for a Japantown, they should be if Evansville does a better job of strengthening its connection to Japan.
Lastly, local architects need to consider Japanese style architecture in their designs for Evansville buildings. This will reinforce the Japanese image.
Overall, there will need to be changes both drastic and minor to make Evansville the " Japan of the Midwest." but I think it's up for the challenge.
Friday, April 23, 2010
One of the main problems that has plaqued Evansville has been its inability to think outside the box and be creative in its urban planning. Such is the case with Reitz Hill. Any hill that overlooks both a major river and a major downtown needs to have attractions on it besides just a high school and basic homes. I will be posting a few more ideas for Reitz Hill in following posts but for the sake of this post, I will focus on the roads.
The roads on Reitz Hill are known for tall dips where you better have good brakes going down them. Unfortunately, that is all they're known for as they have no other distinctive features. What one feature could draw people and residents to them?
Of all the roads and cities I have been to, one street sticks out to me: Lombard Street in San Francisco, CA. Known for being its radically sharp and multiple curves, Lombard Street attracts tourists and residents alike to each day. In turn, this has raised the property values for the homes around it.
As I look at Reitz Hill, I can't help but that that a Lombard Street on top of the hill would be a perfect match. There are several streets that would make perfect candidates: Hillcrest, Edgewood, Hartmetz, and Lemcke just to name a few.
Unfortunately, this idea may draw some opposition from people who are concerned about it being located so close to a high school. However, this road is ideal for being located next to a high school because it will prevent drivers from flying down hilly roads on their way out. I also has the potential to create more parking spaces on the road for students.
Now is the time to build a replica Lombard street that has more curves, more hairpins, and a longer distance than the one in San Francisco. It can be done if Evansville has the willpower.
It seems quite obvious that one of the main reasons for Evansville's "brain drain" is because it has a terrible after hours selection. It has gotten so bad downtown that most businesses close very early on weekdays and don't even bother opening up on Sunday. Evansville had a great opportunity to build an entertainment complex with the new arena if it would have built the arena perpendicular from where it's at now and placed the entertainment venue in front of the Executive Inn which would also hold condo's and lofts. All that is out the window now so Evansville must think creatively.
As I contemplated how to design an entertainment center, I looked at two areas: Times Square in New York City and the entertainment complex outside the American Airlines Center known as AT&T Plaza.
In regards to Times Square, a few things stood out to me that Evansville must replicate. First, Evansville needs to select an area where two roads meet in a "V" formation. This will attract tourists and allow for maximum amount of space. Three areas stick out to me: The V at 2nd street and Carpenter Street, the V at 4th Street and 5th Street, and the V at Main Street and Sycamore Street. Anyone of these streets would a great place to build a midwestern Times Square. However, using the ideas that I have talked about on this blog ( high speed rail terminal, ballpark, canal, riverwalk, etc), I firmly believe that the V on 2nd Street and Carpenter Street would make for the best location. Of the three, it would probably draw the most street traffic, attract the most foot traffic, and it already has nice facades down Carpenter Street.
In regards to the AT&T Plaza, I noticed one important thing Evansville must replicate. A newstation, ideally Fox 7, needs to move their headquarters into the building and broadcast from the location through clear windows each day. This will draw people down into the plaza which in turn will draw retail stores to the plaza. This has worked great in Dallas and I think it can work here.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Recently, I attended an event called NextCity where citizens of Evansville came together and discussed things that need to be done to the city to attract the next generation. One of the ideas floated around was a downtown market.
Unfortunately, there has already been a market in the downtown area but it no longer exists. It was called The Farmers Market and it was on First Ave across from Willard Library. The building was open air and every year young could buy fruits, vegetables, and even christmas trees. Today, a company called Fire & Rain occupies it and the building is fully enclosed.
In my opinion, it failed for a variety of reasons. There was no events around it (in fact the area could be dangerous at night), the infrastructure around it made it tough to access, and it had limited amount of goods to sell. For these reasons, I do not believe that the city or private investor should just pluck a market up downtown and expect it to grow.
For my plan, I have looked at a few different cities to see how they did it. First, the most successful market has got to be Pike's Place Market. Although I find it kind of sickening and morbid to see dead fish being thrown around, the majority of people go to see this at the entrance. But that's not all that is there. There are tons of shops in historic buildings, including the first Starbucks, as well as great views of Puget Sound.
I also looked at what kind of infrastructure should be placed around it. This took me back to my canal idea as I looked at successful retail markets in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Indianapolis. It seems to be a proven fact that canals are great projects to surround your market with.
Going back to the downtown master plan of 2001, they recommended redigging the Wabash & Erie Canal where the current First Ave entrance is. I believe this is the perfect location for a canal and market. However, I would leave room to fully redig the canal in future years. This entails digging the canal all the down to pigeon creek, parallel to the Lloyd, and digging up 5th street all the way past the old courthouse to the old welborn hospital before connecting to Canal Street and heading to the east side.
With this plan, tourists will be drawn to the market from the canal and there will be plenty of other shops and entertainment to keep people coming back.
Monday, April 12, 2010
There is no doubt that most of the things that Evansville has been successful at has been due to the work of Benjamin Bosse. Mr. Bosse served as mayor of Evansville from 1912 to his death in 1922.
According to wikipedia, " During his term as mayor Bosse oversaw that the horse drawn fire carriages were replaced, the Evansville Police Department moved into a separate Police Station, the paving of most downtown streets were paved with brick, and the city built several new public markets. The city's Public Recreation Department was also formed, resulting in the construction of Evansville’s first public playgrounds, tennis courts and swimming pools. He was also a supporter of Frank Fausch, who founded Evansville's National Football League team, the Evansville Crimson Giants."
Bosse also bought the land for Bosse High School and secured financing for its construction. Rumor also has it, Bosse went door to door to collect funds to keep the University of Evansville intact.
So how should Evansville pay tribute to Benjamin Bosse? The obvious solution is to build a statue. It is affordable, it makes an area look classy, and it will draw people to the area. I believe there is two areas that should be under consideration. 1. The river front 2. The top of the Old Courthouse and/or the old Old National Bank building.
I've been thinking this over for quite some time, and I can't help but think that 3 statues of Evansville's founders (Hugh McGary Jr., James W. Jones, and Col. Robert Morgan Evans) should be erected on the riverfront and one single statue of Benjamin Bosse should be erected on top of the Old Courthouse and/or Old National Bank building just like Philadelphia has done with William Penn on top of their City Hall. Benjamin Bosse had a great vision for this city, and putting a statue of him as the tallest monument in Evansville will help keep that vision going.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Several years back, Evansville adopted a recycling system that, while good at the time, contains several errors. First, recycles are only picked up every other week instead of every week like trash. Second, the buckets are way too small. Lastly, requiring residents to clean and separate their recycles has pushed away many people who find it easier to just pitch their recycles in the trash instead of going through the entire recycling process. Evansville needs to take recycling seriously because the city can make money off of recycles instead of paying money for dumping them.
So, what should Evansville do? One recycling system that I envy is the one run by the city of Lexington, KY. In Lexington, there is a rosie for recycles, a Herbie for trash, and a Lenny for lawn waste. Although you should keep your glass products separate, you are not required to divide your recycles or clean them. A truck similiar to a trash truck, comes around and dumps the recycles together into its bucket.
Supposedly, Evansville is going to get a system like this with a 96 gallon trash can. I support this iniative and am hoping it will come to fruition. However, I do not believe Evansville should stop there. Evansville desperately needs to create a green image and create jobs around it.
Evansville should build a recycling center that both creates jobs and is open to the public. Personally, I think a developer needs to be found who is willing to build a center on the block east of Tekoppel Block Co & west of Pigeon Creek that would contain a windmill tower, a plaza, a center with green companies, and a recycling center where residents and tourists could go see just how recycling works. To me, this would create jobs, create entertainment, create revenue for the city off of the recycles, and attract tourists.