Topic Areas: Regional Design and Planning
Project Scale: Regional planning and site design
Accomplished by: Regional Design and Planning Thematic Studio – Faculty: Prof. Margaret Bryant; CCDR: Maren King
Partners: The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, and the Central Catskill Collaborative
How can complex inventory data be documented and presented in ways that are understandable and useful to community members and lay planners?
How can characteristics documented and analyzed at a regional or corridor wide scale be utilized to influence decisions at a site design?
A group of seven communities along the Route 28 corridor in New York’s Catskill Region have formed the Central Catskills Collaborative to try to position themselves for a new future, a new economy, which capitalizes on their significant natural resources and cultural heritage and allows them to become more resilient. The communities are located in a renowned landscape, made famous over 150 years ago by the Hudson River School of landscape painters. Nevertheless, the towns and villages here have struggled in the last few decades. The Central Catskills economy was once dependent on resource extraction, timber harvesting and mining, but these activities are no longer the economic drivers in this region. Roadside motels dating back to the 1940s and earlier dot the Route 28 corridor, a testament to the tourism industry that has shifted considerably in the last 20 years or more. The landscape holds evidence of what once worked for the region’s people. The communities along the 50 mile stretch of the corridor understand that creating and sustaining an outstanding quality of life will be more likely if there is strength in all of the communities, not just as individuals. To that end, they desired to partner with the Catskill Center and the CCDR to create a shared vision for the corridor and for each of the communities.
In preparation for the development of that vision planning, a study was undertaken by landscape architecture students in the regional design studio at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry under the direction of Dr. Margaret Bryant. The intent of the regional perspective was to help frame the vision planning for each individual town and village, and to facilitate collaborative planning along the corridor. Students worked in teams to develop a landscape inventory of natural resources, history and cultural factors, socio-economic factors, and recreation resources. They then individually explored design interventions that enhance quality of life in the villages and hamlets, improve the imageability of the corridor, and create new opportunities for recreation.
Over the course of the semester, the students spent several days in the Catskills observing the landscape, meeting with residents, municipal officials and agency representatives, and researching their inventory topics. The final presentation of the inventory and design studies was made in one of the corridor communities and attended by representatives of each member of the collaborative. The Catskill Center intends to mount an exhibit of the inventory and student projects to make the process and products visible and accessible to corridor residents.