Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Detroit Shoreway Gets Green (and Red, and Pink, and Orange)

A few months back, I came across a design contest taking entries for a re-development of the area surrounding the West 65th Street tunnel between the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and Edgewater Park. This grassy little expanse features a long winding walkway down to a tunnel under the CSX rail lines.

According to the Cleveland Design Competition Awards press release: "Participants were asked to design an intergenerational playscape that activates the residual space around an existing multipurpose pathway connecting Cleveland’s west side neighborhoods to Edgewater Park and Lake Erie." I toyed with the idea of submitting a little entry based upon my cursory knowledge of Google Sketchup, but quickly demurred after seeing the quality of entries in similar competitions. The results of this competition definitely proved my hesitancy correct (for anyone interested in my own childish creation for the space can find it at left; like I said, I'm no expert).

The first-prize winners, Nini Spagl & Gerald Haselwanter from Vienna, Austria, envisioned a color-infused arboreal setting, with trees planted in such a way that their leaves would complement the park through the four seasons. Below is their 'season by season' color scheme.
In addition, the plans call for such interactive items as a playground, four lane (track style) walkway, soccer field, basketball court, climbing wall, and hopscotch area. For those perhaps not so inclined for 'action', there is a planned picnic pavilion and grill area, an outdoor fireplace and surrounding benches that allow you to watch the dramatic sunsets over Lake Erie. (See this and other entries here).
Whether it serves as a basis for design, or any sort of site upgrade goes left unsaid, but the spark that the contest ignites for create solutions in neighborhood development is quite valuable. Whether an outgrowth of the contest, or an independent effort that just so happens to be in concert, neighbors from the Franklin Blvd. area of Detroit Shoreway neighborhood are creating a community orchard on vacant railroad land, just west of the proposed park site. The block club is currently in negotiations with Norfolk Southern, the land owners, but have already secured funding, taken soil samples, and determined what will be planted! Curious?

30 fruit trees, including two kinds of sweet cherry and three kinds of plum; 60 grapevines; 32 bramble bushes featuring three varieties of raspberries and one variety of blackberries; and 16 blueberry bushes. As Plain Dealer Blogger Christopher Evans astutely points out in his entry on the subject; "Restoring beauty and life to a place where asphalt and garbage rule. It doesn't get better than that."

One step at a time, Clevelanders, one step at a time.

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