Recap: Streetscape ‘Visioning Workshop’ for the Future of Orchard Street

Posted on: February 20th, 2014 at 6:09 am by and

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Lori Greenberg

Do you love or hate neckdowns, bike corrals and bollards? (Also, do you know what they are?)

Last night the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (BID), in partnership with local design firm Pilot Projects, presented a “visioning workshop” for the future of Orchard Street. Welcoming ideas from both residents and business owners, the event, hosted by the Tenement Museum, drew a large crowd that had a lot to say.

The event was led by Tim Laughlin, BID Executive Director, and Scott Francisco, founder and director of Pilot Projects. The duo took us through a brief Powerpoint presentation, which explained various streetscape elements such as benches, garbage bins, bike racks, flexible bollards and trees.

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Scott Francisco, Photo: Lori Greenberg

Francisco then led the audience through a brainstorming session called “Keep, Toss, Create.” The crowd yelled out what they wanted to, well, keep, toss and/or create, pertaining to Orchard Street. Some things (“Historic Charm of the Street – Keep” and “Rats – Toss”) were easily agreed upon. Other topics, like car parking, went into both the “Keep” and “Toss” categories. As to be expected, there were vociferous opinions about bicycles vs. cars.

People were very good at “Tossing,” which had the most entries, including phone booths and idling black cars. Under “Create,” the list included better drainage on streets, pedestrian foot traffic, more bike parking and portable nighttime seating.

Residents and business owners were then invited to take part in adding elements of their choice to a 16 foot model of Orchard Street. Participants wrote notes on sticky labels and used miniature models to add trees, street furniture and other details to each block.

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Lori Greenberg

Borough President Gale Brewer arrived midway through the session, observing that in her years of planning and community board meetings, she had never encountered a model that created such excitement and engagement.

The event, described by Laughlin as a first step, was co-sponsored by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, City Council member Margaret Chin and Community Board 3, and was in collaboration with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

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