Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - By Megan - No comments

Providing the Surface for Change

Photo courtesy of Dean Sakamoto Architects 
Truman Capote once said, "A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue." When he spoke these words, he did not have SeeClickFix in mind--largely because we only launched a few years ago. Still, they ring incredibly true on our public forum. From potholes and parking meters to garbage and graffiti, citizens everywhere can report problems in their communities with SeeClickFix. These people can not only document those existing issues, but also offer solutions to them and even suggest entirely new improvements to the public space.

Hoping to improve cyclists' riding experiences, Dean Sakamoto Architects LLC asked SeeClickFix users what surface would be the best to ride on in New Haven. The firm currently plans to use linear paver in the final stretch of the Farmington Canal Greenway, but wanted cyclist feedback. With close to 300 views, Issue #97622 - Linear Paver Choice for the Farmington Canal Greenway has generated numerous suggestions after being reported just six days ago.

Agreeing with Dean Sakamoto Architects, Brian Tang mentioned that pavers would be ideal since they are more eco-friendly and would help prevent water from pooling on the trail.
Pavers create much less water pollution than asphalt: A) they do not contain petroleum and thus do not leach organic pollutants, sulfur, etc. and B) they allow a certain amount of water to seep into the cracks rather than sweep along the surface, picking up pollutants and carrying them to the Long Island Sound. Stormwater runoff is the #1 source of pollution in the Long Island Sound.
Another user Melissa thought semi-loose paving could work well since it allows for water absorption.
I've cycled on paths with this sort of paving in Britain, where they are using this for environmental reasons and found it worked well. It's also attractive, provides better traction than you'd think, and enables you to hear if someone is approaching from behind.
A few miles away, another New Haven resident hopes SeeClickFix will help improve an underpass on Chapel Street. Located in Wooster Square and reported eleven days ago, Issue ##96744 - Have any cool ideas for improving this underpass? has already received countless suggestions about how to make this underpass an interesting public space. In fact, one user suggested transforming it via community art:
How about a "Gateway to Downtown" or " Gateway to New Haven" mural maybe: depicting the various neighborhoods and highlights, like Wooster Sq., the Green, East Rock, architecture, etc... Or maybe showing New Haven proper on the side of the tunnel towards downtown, and then Fair Haven highlights right next to it, like the river and boating, the Grand Ave bridge, the old mansions & Victorians, people in the neighborhood, historical scenes, like oystering and lobstermen. Many people never drive past the junkyards, thinking there's "nothing" over our way in Fair Haven.
Yet another resident Juli approached the underpass with a more agricultural idea:
What about if neighbors could donate a flower pot or two, and line them up along the inside edge? Plants that don't require a ton of sunlight? It would be cool to have all different shapes and sizes. I think if there was a critical mass of pots, theft would be less likely. Or some of the pots could have pinwheels in them, since its always windy under overpasses. Or we could plant some ivy at the very edges, with the eventuality of it growing to cover some of the grey space. It would take several seasons, but it would spread, as long as we hung something for it to attach to.
Through both issues, New Haven residents demonstrate the power of many voices coming together in one community. We're excited to see how both issues continue to generate constructive dialogue on SeeClickFix!

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