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Spotlight 2002 Abstracts


Landscape Architecture

TOWARD A NEW NEIGHBORHOOD DESIGN MODEL: COMMUNITY GARDENING AS A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION FOR THE RENEWED VACANT URBAN LAND 2

SYRACUSE VACANT LAND STUDY

TOWARD A NEW NEIGHBORHOOD DESIGN MODEL: COMMUNITY GARDENING AS A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION FOR THE RENEWED VACANT URBAN LAND

Juan C. Beltran, Faculty of Landscape Architecture, MLA Program. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210

There are important benefits to low-income residents by reusing vacant city lots within the neighborhood for growing food. Wrong developmental policies, apparent in North America, have left cities with dilapidation, abandonment, poverty and growing amounts of vacant space.

The Department of Community Development of the City of Syracuse has determined, from assessment files of the city, the number of properties in residential areas that are vacant or at risk of becoming vacant because of high violations and tax delinquencies. The inner city neighborhoods have the highest number of vacant properties. This study was focused on the Southwest Community. As stated in the City of Syracuse Draft Consolidated Plan 2001-2002, the Vacant Property Plan is aimed at increasing the number of owner-occupied units by rehabilitating vacant structures and funding demolition and maintenance of vacant property or buildings.

Two objectives were proposed for this study. First, demonstrate new uses for vacant space in the way of a design model as prototypes that can be implemented in a neighborhood. And second, evaluate prototype design for this possible contribution to create a more sustainable neighborhood with higher quality of life. As a matter of fact and according to Michael Hough, in his book Cities and Natural Process: “Increased leisure time, early retirement and unemployment are credited with the increasing demand for a plot of land to produce organically-grown food.”

By the identification and comparison of precedents and models, this study was applicable as a model or prototype to be incorporated in the city’s master plan as a quality of living generator. There is a great potential of vacant space or vacant buildings to be demolished in order to generate opportunities for a sustainable urban environment. Tax delinquency and vacant lots and buildings as potential city’s property to be incorporated within this study represented the main physical source to work in.

The idea is to generate an improved and productive urban landscape by incorporating agriculture, horticulture and forestry as potential uses for vacant land. This design gives a new and higher profile to the Southwest Community by using cooperative organization for management. Allotments, community gardens and city farms are contributing in the creation of opportunities for people, the enrichment and development of their own lives by active participation, also they are providing employment and work experience and making a positive contribution to conservation of the land within the city.

SYRACUSE VACANT LAND STUDY

Juan Carlos Beltran, Jan Brath, Patrick Kelly, Juan Vilela, Emanuel Carter, and Maria Ignatieva, Faculty of Landscape Architecture, 312 Marshall Hall

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York 13210

The purpose of the Syracuse Vacant Land Study is to determine the feasibility of using agricultural, horticultural and forestry cooperatives to re-design, re-structure and re-value parcels, blocks and neighborhoods in inner-city locations. The project is funded by the Community Foundation of Central New York and the Syracuse Department of Community Development.

The project involves four phases and is currently a work in progress. The final document will address: (1) the findings from the design studies as they relate to spatial feasibility and matters of urban design and city planning; (2) financial, administrative and technical issues as they relate to the forming of cooperatives; (3) and issues of property values, taxation and politics as they relate to the advisability of retaining these proposed working landscapes as permanent features that might stimulate new residential development and otherwise be of social, economic, environmental and aesthetic benefit to the city’s neighborhoods.