Devil is in the Details in Downtown Development, Too! Pay Attention City Hall!

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WPCNR LETTER TICKER. December 14, 2014:

A resident of the White Plains downtown, and frequent walker in the center of White Plains has observed a series of areas already built, demonstrating considerably less than perfect execution and chronic “quality of life” issues that the Common Council, Planning Board, Building Department, Planning Department and Parking Department, Traffic Commission must pay closer attention to in the future than they have in the past.

Dec. 12, 2014

Dear Mayor Roach, Common Council Members, City Advisory Board members, and other interested parties:

For Large and Small Development Projects, the Devil Is in the Details. These details—number of driveways, wind generation at street level, garbage storage, dips in sidewalks, snow storage and removal, access for large and small moving vans and delivery trucks, melting roof snow and ice, dog walking, safe pedestrian entry, cab access, cleanup of empty lots whose developers default, building identification–concern public safety and quality of life. All concerned—developers, City Departments, City Boards giving opinions and approval, should keep these details in mind.

Does the profit motive make developers of residential and commercial or mixed use want to pack as much as they can into a property? Listed here is an elaboration of some concerns that must be addressed in development:

Driveways

The City Center and new hotel complex on Main Street have, within 1 block, 5 driveways for pedestrians to cross. Could this have been avoided?

Wind generation

In the winter small people have difficulty crossing City Place and Church Street near Main Street because of high-speed wind gusts created by the new tall buildings on City Place and Renaissance Square. Street level wind generation, an aspect of the science of urban aerodynamics, can be calculated and considered in advance of building. The applicant for development should pay for the studies.

Garbage storage

On hot summer days, have you passed by the open Martine Avenue City Center delivery area and garbage storage area? You can smell the garbage, and so can the residents of Martine Avenue. Should there be better garbage containers, and should there have been a better design to keep the storage area hosed down and clean? Or, are the garbage smells the result of employee negligence?

Dips in sidewalks

For visibility, especially after dark, dips in sidewalk materials (for ease of wheel chair and luggage rolling from the street) should be a different color than the rest of the sidewalk.

Snow storage and snow removal

Enough area for temporary snow storage should be set aside; and that should include a border of safety to allow for thawing and refreezing so that pedestrians do not slip.

Moving vans and delivery trucks

Moving vans and delivery trucks, giant-sized and small, need a place to park and maneuver so that motorists and pedestrians can pass safely.

Melting roof snow and ice

Melting roof snow and ice are a problem. That’s why you often see a roped-off area(s) at the City Center, to protect people on the ground from falling snow and ice. Is there a way to plan for this in advance of construction?

Dog walking

In extremely cold weather, I notice that people living in the rental building on City Place do not want to walk their dogs far. The area near the door becomes a small skating rink. In any weather, Martine Avenue has become a dog dump. No dog park was planned. Even if a dog park had been planned, where would it be and who would be disturbed by dogs barking, late at night and in the early morning? The new downtown residential “Des Moines Building” in Des Moines, Iowa has its own dog park on a third floor walk-out roof. But, the brand new rental building on Dekalb Avenue in White Plains has a dog park, next to a private home.

Safe pedestrian entry into a building or complex

What could be more important than safe pedestrian entry into a building or complex? Safe sidewalks, steps, ramps, street crossings….

Cab access

The cab “stand” in front of Walmart provides unsafe access for the cabs: They must maneuver to park and wait on Main Street by driving immediately in front of an extremely active pedestrian crosswalk (the NE corner of Main Street and City Place).

Cleanup of empty lots whose developers default or delay

Developers are responsible for keeping empty, undeveloped lots clean and free of plant overgrowth. They must be required to contribute to an escrow account for lot cleaning. One reason is default on property ownership (example: Amherst Place vacant lot between Franklin Avenue and Main Street).

Building identification

An almost new rental apartment building on Lake St., in the block east of South Kensico, has no street number or building name on it. Identification is important for deliveries, cab service, and, of course, emergencies.

I welcome your comments, and thank you for your consideration. This communication is available in electronic form.

 Renee Cohen

Downtown White Plains Resident

 

 

Renee Co

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