Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thinking About New Brunswick as a Planner

by Marley Bice, MCRP '12

In case you didn't get a chance to read it, the very last page of the Fall 2010 RAPPS newsletter was actually an urban planner matching game. The article asked you to (a) identify the locations of the photos on the map of New Brunswick and (b) think about whether these were examples of good or bad planning.

Did you successfully identify all of the locations? Did you get a chance to think about whether these are things that add or detract from New Brunswick's character? Here is your chance to add your voice.

The locations were:
(A) The parking garage at the intersection of Plum and Somerset Streets
(B) New landscaping on a mid-century brick apartment complex on Hamilton Street
(C) The new modern-looking Rutgers School of Nursing building on Paterson Street
(D) The ubiquitous Gateway Center on Easton Avenue
(E) The Johnson & Johnson Complex at George and Albany Streets
(F) Deiner Park hidden behind the "River Dorms" on the College Avenue Campus
(G) Boyd Park bordering Route 18
(H) George Street and specifically the redevelopment and face lift the street landscape got this past year
(I) The southern intersection of Route 18 and Raritan Avenue - those of you who live in Highland Park probably know this intersection well
(J) Hope Manor affordable housing complex on George Street

So what do you guys think? Do these places add to the aesthetics of the area? Are they a good use of the land? Are you able to identify bike/ped or accessibility issues? Does the landscaping create attractive spaces for residents?

To be completely honest, the whole reason I started this exercise was because I hated how I passed the Frank M. Deiner Park (item (F) above) multiple times a week and never ever saw anyone using the facilities. It made me wonder why... the park is ideally located behind densely populated undergraduate dorms with amazing Raritan River views... but maybe it is too hidden. Does the park have a bad reputation or safety issues that deter students? Is there not enough to do there?

Just today I stumbled upon a five-year old Daily Targum article about the park. Even the reporter had a negative impression of the park and its prospects when saying "Deiner Park now features a cracked basketball court, a faded sign with no real entrance to the park and no greenery to attract visitors, despite several studies conducted over the past 10 years aimed to revitalize the park." The 30-year old park cost over $20 million to build so I think we need to be thinking about and doing something to make this a better and safer place for the students and community members that could benefit from it.

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