Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thoughts on Building Strong Towns

Charles Marohn is a Professional Engineer (PE) and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He has a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute. He is the author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Volume 1).

He combines these essentially geeky credentials with an urbanist's sensibility. He's interested in the creation of healthy neighbourhoods, in building community. He questions and challenges his engineering colleagues, analyzing costs/benefits of road infrastructure projects particularly in the medium and long term. The existing development model that dates from the years after WWII, "creates modest short-term benefits and massive long-term costs," he says.

Today's  municipalities' drive to create new growth to keep up with the costs of earlier infrastructure amounts to a "Ponzi scheme". And. as we all know, Ponzi schemes come to unpleasant and abrupt ends. He claims no magic bullet solution but offers clear eyed perspective and outlines the mostly self-evident measures that need to be taken without delay. We knew prior to building this unsustainable car oriented model how to build strong  neighbourhoods, communities, towns. We need to take a look back to learn how to repair some of the damage done.

I've recommended to our Mayor and Council here in Nanaimo (a laboratory in which to study the damage done to neighbourhoods by sprawl, malls and busy arterial roads) to read Marohn's Thoughts on Building Strong Towns and ask their senior managers, planners and engineers to brief them on whether in their opinion he's got it wrong and if so, how. And what if he's right?

1 comment:

Frank Murphy said...

Subject: Charles Marohn's "Thoughts on Building Strong Towns"
Date: 23 October, 2012 2:48:53 PM PDT
To: Mayor&Council@nanaimo.ca
Cc: GeneralManagers@nanaimo.ca, Wally Wells , "sasha.angus@investnanaimo.com Angus"

Mayor Ruttan and Nanaimo City Councillors,

I want to bring to your attention and highly recommend you read Charles Marohn's Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Volume 1). Here's my take on TheSidewalkBallet Thoughts on Building Strong Towns. An easy read and only 5 bucks for the kindle. I'm hoping you will read it and consider the perspectives of this Professional Engineer and Planner and then ask your Senior Management, Senior Planners and Engineers to brief you on why they think he's got it wrong and if so, how. And advise you on what it means if he's right?

Thanks --

Frank Murphy