We’ve been talking about creating walkable places here in Brevard and “what” defines a walkable neighborhood. Next let’s get into some of the “how’s” of building those walkable neighborhoods. In my earlier article “A Better Way to Build Things” I explained the design of a complete walkable neighborhood. If we are building from scratch it’s very easy to follow the principles of walkability and build it right from the beginning, but what about the stuff that already exists out there? There is lots of existing sprawl development in our area in need of repair that we would like to modify and mold into walkable places.
First, let’s figure out what areas of the county we want to focus on. It’d be nice to say, “yeah, let’s repair it all!” but the reality is we will have to set priorities. One of the things we are going to look at when looking at places to repair in our region is whether or not the place is already seeing success. Busy, economically successful places will make the best candidates for successful repair. Targeting a place that is in the doldrums can turn out to be a distraction that in the long run may fail because of lack of marketability. Instead, let’s build on the success of already viable places. Our efforts then are more likely to be catalytic and spark further development throughout the area in a chain-reaction.
Part of sprawl repair is the slowing and re-structuring of our outward migration. I alluded to this idea in an earlier blog post “This Far And No Farther!” Slowing our outward migration is not only important for preserving wilderness, but it also will help to encourage reinvestment in our existing developed areas. In addition, passing good smart growth regulations will make sure the things that we do build out on the rural fringe in our county will be done in the form of complete, compact, walkable neighborhoods. Much of what is currently being planned and built at our rural edge is being called “smart growth” when it is in fact not smart growth at all. We need to fix this! The test for good smart growth is walkability. Can citizens who will live there walk for daily tasks? If not, then it’s not smart!
Let’s continue this thought in the next couple of posts. We can zoom in and talk in more detail about ways to repair existing sprawl at the neighborhood, block, and building level…
Barry Watkins, Walkable Brevard, Rockledge, Florida, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org, ph:321-355-2747