What’s Wrong With This Picture?

June 15, 2009


Behold the tree-statue of DeWitt Clinton marking the opening of the Erie Canal.  What’s wrong is the car in the background.  The parking lot is just past the single row of trees, about 20 feet from the sidewalk and adjoining Erie Street.

No matter what direction from which you photograph this and all the other tree-statues (the “Carvings“)  temporarily lining Erie Street as it extends to the end of the Erie Basin Marina, you cannot get away from the asphalt.  You can find plenty of parking and a very nice road that hugs the shoreline, but virtually no grass.  Barely a place to spread out a picnic blanket, set up a tent, hold a party.

No place to avoid engine exhaust.

My last post was about the lack of access to our waterfront.  This post is an example of how development of that access has sacrificed the very reason we go to the water:  To get away from the sights and sounds of urbanization.  In this regard we planned poorly but executed the plan well, leaving us with a jetty that from above looks dull and gray, and from the ground looks wanting for anything green.  I recall while living in Silicon Valley how parking lots were divided by fingers of grass and foliage to break up and hide the proliferation of cars.  Is that design, which sacrifices one in ten parking spots, not feasible out here?

The planned redevelopment of the Waterfront Village – with a newly approved hotel plan – really needs to incorporate natural elements into the design.  So do the existing properties in the Village, the road leading to the marina and the oversized parking lots on it.  My suggestion:  Take out the road beyond the last set of boat docks, and force everyone to walk the final 400 yards to the end of the marina on a grassy and sandy surface.  Barefoot even.