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Tag: Sustainability

Speclines

Speclines

Lighting for the long-term public good.

We exist to light the nighttime environment better. Our work goes beyond simply providing lighting solutions; it’s about improving the quality of life for communities, individuals, animals and plants.

We offer sustainable lighting solutions for municipalities and DOT, helping governments and communities decide upon long-term lighting solutions for streets, parks, and highways.

Interested in municipal solar lighting? It’s now more possible than ever, watch this video to find out how.

Services

Services include: Downtown Revitalization; Community & Economic Development; Mixed-use Development

Visit their website

Contact

Pail Finbow
190 Main Street
Sandwich, MA 02563
Pfinbow@speclines.net

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D.4.5 Environmental Resiliency Initiatives

D.4.5 Environmental Resiliency Initiatives

Action

Develop, fund, implement and maintain an environmental resiliency and low impact development plan.

Why

Implementing low impact development principles and practices, and planning for environmental resiliency:

  • manages and cleans stormwater
  • reduces road closures due to flooding (keeps customers from visiting, employees from working)
  • mitigates impacts to property owners and businesses
  • can add beauty and interest through green infrastructure

How

  • Utilize any previous studies or community engagement feedback to create, fund and implement an environmental resiliency and low impact development plan. 
  • Work with partners such as the local Department of Public Works, Engineering Department and the State of CT Department of Transportation Right of Way office as needed.

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

For example: Bioswales, Rain Gardens, Green Roofs, etc.

4
  • The district has active environmental resiliency initiatives in place.
3
  • The district has plans in place to launch environmental resiliency initiatives.
2
  • The district is considering environmental resiliency initiatives.
1
  • The district has no plans for any environmental resiliency initiatives.

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D.4.4 Trees

D.4.4 Trees

Action

Develop, fund and implement an annual tree management and planting plan.

Why

Trees are an essential component in a downtown setting, providing beauty, cooling shade, community identity, traffic calming and fresh air. It is known that town centers and urban areas often are densely developed, paved, and have a lack of green space and trees. Trees should be maintained and appropriately reincorporated to our downtowns. Communities with trees as part of a beautification program send a positive message to potential investors, like new residents or developers. Educational tree care and planting programs that include volunteer opportunities increase social engagement and allow merchants, property owners and other community members to work as a team.

How

  • Utilize your public amenities or tree inventory and any previous community engagement feedback to create, fund and implement a tree management and planting plan that reflects community spirit and enhances the pedestrian experience. 
  • As part of your tree inventory or planting plan, have a goal of at least 80% of all trees being appropriate for the downtown. For example, they are an appropriate height, species, roots aren’t disrupting buildings or sidewalks, blocking traffic / safety signs or creating other safety hazards. 
  • Be sure all plantings are maintained throughout the year.
  • Encourage merchants and businesses to participate in the planting program.

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

Appropriate trees filter pollution, provide appropriate shade, are durable, and have a root system that doesn’t damage the sidewalks.

4
  • 80%+ of the trees are appropriate for the district
  • Trees are regularly maintained all year round to prevent overgrowth that blocks businesses & traffic/pedestrian signage and creates safety hazards.
3
  • 60-80% of the trees are appropriate for the district
  • Trees are maintained all year round to prevent overgrowth that blocks businesses & traffic/pedestrian signage and creates safety hazards.
2
  • Less than 60% of the trees are appropriate for the district
  • Trees are inconsistently maintained, overgrown, and blocking businesses & traffic/pedestrian signage creating safety hazards.
1
  • There are no trees.

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D.2.4 EV Charging Stations

D.2.4 EV Charging Stations

Action

Install and maintain EV Charging Stations in convenient, accessible locations throughout the downtown.  

Why

Adding EV Charging Stations downtown will provide a safe, convenient asset to attract more residents, shoppers, diners and employees of local businesses.  

How

  • Engage the community and various stakeholders to understand the need and desire for EV charging stations, including possible locations. 
  • Develop a plan for, and fund, installation and maintenance of EV Charging Stations. 
  • Be sure to install directional signage leading users to the stations. 
  • Make EV Charging Station information available online, social media, and advertise with all events.

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Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

4
  • The district has active electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Clear directional signage is in place.
3
  • The district has plans in place to launch electric vehicle charging stations including clear directional signage.
2
  • The district is considering electric vehicle charging stations.
1
  • The district has no plans for any electric vehicle charging stations.

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D.1.2 Public Transit

D.1.2 Public Transit

Action

Conduct community outreach. Research, develop and implement a public transportation plan that includes construction of (and signage for) safe, well-placed transit stops and amenities throughout the downtown. 

Why

Public transportation easily connects people to local businesses, jobs, education, places of worship, social events, food resources and more throughout the downtown, and this encourages economic development. It can also be a more healthy, environmentally friendly, affordable, and fun way to get where you need to go.

How

  • Conduct research and hold community outreach events regarding the needs and desires for public transportation downtown. 
  • Develop and implement a public transportation plan that improves safety, links transit to housing, food resources, employment centers, and connects to the downtown. The plan should also include attractive transit stops and amenities. 
  • Develop and implement and plan for advertising available transportation options.

Search Downtown Resource Library

Main Street Management Assessment Rubric

Scoring Standards

For example: Train, Interstate Bus, City Bus, CT FastTrack

4
  • Placement of transits stops is researched and links to multi-modal transit, housing, and employment centers in the district corridor.
  • Attractive transit stops with shelters are used.
  • Bus route has dedicated bus lanes for increased safety for boarding and deboarding.
3
  • Transit stops are well marked.
  • Transit stops with shelters are used.
2
  • Transit stops are marked by street signs.
  • Transit stops have benches.
1
  • There is no public transit.

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CMSC Webinar: Reimagining Communal Spaces to be More Community-Friendly

CMSC Webinar

Reimagining Communal Spaces to be More Community Friendly

Webinar Summary

Communal spaces play a vital role in every municipality. They bring residents together, provide recreation, boost the economy and even fuel healthier lifestyles. 

In this webinar, Celeste Frye, co-founder & CEO of Public Works Partners, LLC, shares strategies for designing communal spaces that proactively and thoughtfully meet the needs of the entire community. 


Presentation Highlights

  • What is a Communal Space?

    The question of where people congregate in your town should be approached sensitively and take into consideration all the different people who live in your community. This is important because it has repercussions regarding class, race, ethnic backgrounds and ability to access spaces (ability, age, etc.) When we’re designing communal places, they need to be truly welcoming inclusiveness of all community members.

    What is a Communal Space?

    • The purpose of a communal space is to be activated and invite people in to gather and connect. From an urban planning perspective, activating a place means the use of a public space to advance community building and social interaction, using strategies to proactively bring people into a space. This can be a simple as free wi-fi or tables and chairs.
    • It’s important to acknowledge that you may have different spaces for different groups within your town and that some spaces may feel hostile to different groups, for instance to those that are unhoused (homeless) or disabled.
  • Benefits of Communal Spaces

    There are 3 main benefits of communal spaces:

    • Build social networks by encouraging people to grow their personal networks
      • Communal spaces provide infrastructure and a setting for people to gather and share experiences, and to safely interact with others who they may not see or interact with otherwise – for instance, those of differing gender identities or religious affiliation.
    • Spur economic growth both in the space and in nearby neighborhoods
      • Attracting people to a space can encourage patronage of local businesses through design and use improvements.
      • Brick and mortar stores, façade improvements, and venues for food trucks can all help small businesses thrive.
      • Communal spaces can also draw people to different neighborhoods
      • Adaptive reuse of historic buildings can give them uses that match the current residents and their needs, for instance converting old schools into community or recreational centers.
    • Improve health and wellbeing through facilitating physical and social activity
      • Can include things like parks with walking trails or game spaces, but also downtowns with walkable streets.
      • Can use design elements that encourage people to move from space to space which can improve health and wellbeing, especially in places that have historically lacked them. Examples include wide sidewalks, protected bike lanes, public transit access
      • Examples of Communal Spaces
        • Parks – Green spaces that are visually attractive and allow for physical and social interactions
        • Markets – Vacant lots can be used for pop up markets or food trucks
        • Downtowns – in addition to commercial areas, they also house government buildings, libraries and social events like parades
  • How to Be Truly Community-Friendly

    To create places that are welcoming to the entire community, it’s imperative to incorporate key elements:

    • Accessibility – go above and beyond ADA requirements
      • The community’s ADA needs should be discussed at the beginning stages of planning, not at the end
      • ADA mostly focuses on physical accessibility but we should broaden our understanding of ADA or “universal” design to include mental cognitive ability and life cycle (i.e. kids, pregnant women or older people). For example, signage should be clear and easy to understand. Use multi-sensory signals, such as auditory signals at crosswalks. Haptic, or touch-based signals, (such as braille), help as well.
      • It’s also important to make sure access is continuous. Common obstacles are curb cuts that don’t connect to cross walks or protected bike lanes that end suddenly.
      • Incorporating accessibility elements creates an equitable opportunity for people to participate in these spaces.
    • Transportation
      • Active transportation gives people more ways to traverse a space. Think of protected bike lanes (and bike parking), protected bike lanes and wide sidewalks in addition to lanes for cars. Bollards and islands can be used to help separate lanes.
    • Green space
      • A community friendly space incorporates the natural environment for recreation, play and learning. Thoughtfully plan for and maximize green space – think about things like where you’ll you put it. What will it be like in real life? For instance, will trees work in the space or are planters better?
    • Safety & Comfort
      • This makes the place approachable and can include things like awnings over shops to provide shelter from the rain, trees for shade, human-scaled lighting, slower speed limits, and permanent and movable street seating.
  • Making It Happen

    • Begin by doing robust research
      • How do people use the space? How do they want to access it? What’s the history of the neighborhood? Is it changing? What are the community demographics? Why is the project happening here, now?
      • Talk to the community and observe how the space is currently used.
    • Make Your Plan
      • Once you have the research you can create your plan, laying out your goals and strategies. Include key milestones and successes, timeline, communication protocols, incorporate the community into the implementation, etc.
    • Implement Your Plan
      • Utilize connections made with businesses and community members to create some shared decision-making frameworks.
      • Bring the larger community in and get them excited about the project. While you’ll likely engage contractors for big changes, you might be able incorporate the community by doing site tours or things like group planting projects, ribbon cuttings, etc.
      • Clear communication will also help mitigate issues like construction noise or access. It’ll let you get feedback so you can respond to issues in a timely manner. Downtown managers are often key liaisons between the different stakeholders.
    • Manage Your Space
      • Discuss funding for maintenance and who will manage the space, have strategies to evaluate the space such as who’s using it at what time of day, then you can make changes as necessary.
    • Maintain Your Space
      • Weather and use can impact your space. What’s needed for maintenance on a seasonal basis? After a year or five years?
      • Report out to the community on your successes and efforts.
  • Real Life Examples

    • Syracuse Downtown Revitalization Initiative – Public Works was engaged to support the creation of a final strategic investment plan that’s directing $10m worth of state funding to select real estate and public infrastructure investments.
      • In this project they were reconnecting two different parts of the downtown to work against the affects of population decline and the legacy of urban renewal.
      • They facilitated a series of in person and virtual charrettes focused on things the community already said was important to them – pedestrian friendly streets, trees and green infrastructure, making streetscape and building improvements and preserving the cultural heritage of this neighborhood.
        • Their recommendations included improving sidewalks and streetscapes, adding lighting and wayfinding to encourage people to traverse the area, redeveloping certain properties to create commercial and pedestrian activity, and supporting outdoor vendor spaces.
      • Lessons learned
        • Important to reach out to people in a variety of way to meet people where they are.
        • Build on what’s already working and let community members easily identify what they already like, in this case a popular community center
        • Choose and incorporate elements that fit with the community.
    • NYC Streets Plan – Public Works led the NYC Streets Plan (NSP) Public Engagement Process (PEP) to support a NSP that would include the safety of all street users, the use of multi-modal mass transit, the reduction of vehicle emissions, and access for individuals with disabilities.
      • In many communities the most publicly owned land is actually the streets, so it’s beneficial to think how they can be utilized by all users, not just cars.
      • This purpose of this program was primarily to improve the safety of non-car users.
        • Had a online engagement platform, did phone surveys targeted to non-English speakers and people who traditionally didn’t participate, which allowed for a deeper reach into the community.
      • Lessons Learned
        • Defined the accessibility need for the engagement process and the plan up front
        • Provided flexibility around the times people could engage
        • Did a mix of small group engagement so everyone felt comfortable participating

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Other Resources

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About Celeste Frye

Co-Founder and CEO, Public Works Partners

An AICP-certified planner, Celeste Frye co-founded Public Works Partners more than a decade ago out of a passion to help mission-driven organizations increase their positive impact on local communities. She is a known expert in designing and implementing multi-stakeholder initiatives, building strong connections across the nonprofit, government and private sectors. Celeste is a member of the Regional Plan Association’s Connecticut Committee and the Coro New York Leadership Center’s Alumni Advisory Board. She was recognized with City & State’s 2021 Community Engagement Power 50 and Crain’s New York’s 2021 Notable Women Business Owners. Celeste received a M.S. in Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. in International Studies & French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Connecticut Main Street Center

P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT 06141
860.280.2337

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P.O. Box 270, Hartford, CT 06141 | 860.280.2337