Monday, December 28, 2009

A Week of Professional Loitering

The Charlotte Streetcar Project, amongst others, has lately been commanding much of my energy (sorry for the absence). So I'm making the most of my holiday break to wind down. For me that is gallivanting around the vicinity to visit new places in the Southeast. Currently, I'm checking out recent urban developments in the Atlanta region. Anyone out there have a tip for recent urban developments I need to check out in upstate Georgia,...let me know.

On any trip of mine, I like to think of myself as a professional loiterer. Anytime I come across a "No Loitering" or "No Skateboarding" type of sign, I like to hang out there until I figure out what it is about that place that would attract life. Outside North America, these signs have not been invented, so I'm glad they appear frequently in the most random places here. These signs are handy indicators of the subversive Flaneurship of skateboard-loving teenagers and otherwise automotively liberated folks. However, I consider it a somewhat rude surprise to encounter these signs in brand new development. The pre-emptive strike is unfair...and, quite frankly, tactless. How do you know that your new development will successfully attract the sportive activities listed there?

I spotted the sign above in a park in Greenville, SC's new Verdae development. Verdae is a top notch New Urbanist development, with only a few model homes young, so smug, so self-confident.... Ah but, alas, it is probably right about its future. It sports a grid plan with community greens, a promised variety of housing types, and a complete streetscape with bike lanes and landscaped roundabouts. The park in which the sign above is located is Legacy Park, the signature element of Verdae. Surely, New Urbanists, you created this place... I just hope the intolerant folks doing the guidelines posting can ease it up a little, ...just a little... to allow your vision to take root. Just let the life have a fair chance to grab a hold on first...before you throttle the sucker. Maybe you do want dogs chasing frisbees across that wonderful rolling green. Maybe you'll discover you don't need the sign. Maybe the community will love the Park just enough to respect it and watch over it without being overbearing. Just a hunch.