By Hannah Cluck
The planning of city layouts is a process that involves every citizen in the selected area, whether they know it or not. The residents of the town are the people utilizing the town on a day-to-day basis. They are on the front lines of the whole process that goes into developing an efficient, functioning city.
Planning the layout of a city is more vital than it may seem. The placement of buildings, parking lots and parks has to be taken into consideration when developing a pedestrian-friendly, consumer-friendly city. If a good or service is located in an inconvenient area, it will remain unused resulting in waste and poor use of land. The tedious details of city planning is equally as important as city layout. These tedious details being the maintenance of sidewalks, benches, greenery, etc. The tedious details that encourage residents to actually utilize the town and immerse themselves in the community.
This is the case for our own town of Plattsburgh. The town relies on feedback from residents to morph Plattsburgh into a more pedestrian-friendly, safe and appealing town. A walk audit was performed with the Plattsburgh Health Department that included students from an environmental planning class at Plattsburgh State. The audit consisted of the group walking and inspecting the conditions of various roads like Broad, Brinkerhoff, Margaret and Couch streets. The students conducting a survey were able to submit data to the city on the current conditions of town facilities like sidewalks, benches, bike lanes and bus stops.
One common theme found within the audit was that the sidewalks were not even close to meeting ADA compliance. ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, protecting the safety and rights of residents with disabilities. To meet ADA compliance, sidewalks must be five feet in width, and consist of maintained ADA pads, the textured patch at the end of sidewalks to let those visually impaired know that there is a road. The sidewalks were merely three feet in width, resulting in easily piled up foot traffic, decreasing efficiency. Many of the ADA pads were completely missing as well, risking the lives of residents with disabilities in the area.
In addition to the sidewalks, the state of the crosswalks were frightening. Located on Broad Street are several poorly marked crosswalks, with cars whirring by at fast speeds; one of these crosswalks being for the Plattsburgh middle school. The state of these sidewalks jeopardizes the safety of anyone using them. Cars stopping to let those who need to cross is not a given.
The town was granted funding to better the conditions of Plattsburgh to implement needed and useful change. The town has started several initiatives to jumpstart this change, one of them being the Margaret Street Project. The goal of this project is to transform Margaret Street and the town needs feedback. Residents of Plattsburgh and students are able to access the Margaret Street Project website and submit their own opinions to the town. Residents are able to be the voice of change and make a tremendous impact on the town throughout its journey of development.