The Diamond Developers: “MAPS Mini” Blog #7

When The Diamond Developers went through and scored the intersection of Tuttle Park Place and Norwich Avenue, the segment of Norwich Avenue up to High Street, and then the intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street, a total of 7/21 (33%) points were given. The main concern was the intersections, since neither provided any means of safely crossing. Both lacked a signal, a crosswalk, or any signage to alert drivers of the possibility of pedestrians. The segment on Norwich Avenue, however, was relatively safe to travel for pedestrians, but a lack of transit stops and bike path would prove to be an inconvenience for some people.

The intersection of Tuttle Park Place and Norwich Avenue.

The intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street.

The intersection of Norwich avenue and High Street.

What was missing from the MAPS mini? What did you keep wanting to report, but didn’t find on the survey tool?

The MAPS mini useful in evaluating the sidewalks and the street crossings, but the group felt that a longer evaluation would do a better job in assessing the area. The group would have liked to see more questions on the walkability of not just the segment, but leading up to the segment. Specifically, parts of Tuttle Park Place is walking in the alley with no sidewalk, which the group wanted to report. Additionally, the group felt that some of the responses were too vague, and left too much room for ambiguity. For example, the responses for well maintained buildings had two options, 0-99%, and 100%. There was not a lot of room for a gray area.

Did you find public realm mattered more or less to you than private realm? Why?

The Diamond Developers feels that the public realm mattered more than the private realm in this survey. Most of the questions dealt with how the street and sidewalks are, with only one focusing on the buildings. The questions were focused on walkability rather than the aesthetics of the private property. This is good, since people walking and biking by would likely be more concerned with their safety than with how a certain house looks. A planner, in return, should focus more on the upkeep of the sidewalks and the safety in crossing streets.

What issues do you think would be more important to community members as opposed to planners?

The Diamond developers feel that community members would be more concerned with how the sidewalk is lit, how it is kept, and how they can cross a street. For people traveling, the group feels that they would be interested in how easy it is to get from point A to point B, more so than how the surrounding private property is. However, a planner may be more concerned with how the sidewalks interact with the private property, while keeping safety as a top priority.

5 Beers and 1 Coke Maps Mini Post #7

What’s missing from MAPS-Mini? What did you keep wanting to report but didn’t find on the survey tool?

The maps mini was helpful because it included many practical questions concerning the beatification of the street through tree coverage, bike lanes, lack of graffiti, and cross walks. These are all good questions to build a solid infrastructure that community life can be built around.

The maps mini was lacking in questions that rate whether or not the infrastructure has been successful in creating the desired community life. The guide’s questions all related to the physical layout of the street itself, but what about questions if people are actually walking around and enjoying the area? Are we so pragmatically minded that we cannot stop to see if the bike lanes are actually being used by bikers? If there are people walking around to even use the cross walks? Does the street show signs of life like murals or people hanging out outside? You can build new crosswalks and clean up, but if these characteristics are present (or at least being developed) the efforts are vain. The question guide could be improved by questions about people’s activity. For example “About how many people did you see outside enjoying the neighborhood when walking down the street? 0-5? 6-10? 11-15?



As you can see from the photo above, there was very little activity on Norwich. Beside our groups trekking around, I saw virtually no one on Norwich, and very few people around the Norwich and High intersection. I wanted to report and discuss this in the maps mini, but was unable. Picture this scenario to illustrate this shortcoming of the maps mini: Imagine if the street and intersection scored perfect across the board. There were crosswalks. There was tree coverage. There was no graffiti. But what if even with all this, there were still no people? On paper, the community would look great! But In reality it would be dead. This is why the paper should seek to capture the life of the community more than just infrastructure improvements.



Did you find public realm mattered more or less to you than private realm? Why?

Based on some of the poor upkeep of the public area I would say that the private area is valued more by the developers of this community. The houses seemed decent for the most part, but there were sidewalks that were very broken up, and not many trees. The public are did not seem like there was much funding or thought put into it. There were no parks close by, and there was no cross walk as you can see in the picture above.

5 Beers + 1 Coke personally values the development of the public are above private development. If you develop the public are to be a nice and attractive space, private businesses and people that really care about the community will move in. If the public area is attractive, the private will come. Money must be invested to jump start that process. But the private part will not initiate this process. Why would private firms take an unnecessary step of faith like that? It only makes sense that they would go to a part of the community that really focuses on development in the private sector.

What issues do you think would be more important to community members as opposed to planners?

Community members often value private free choice over plans. Issues about amount of land they have per parcel is more important to community members in rural areas. In the outskirts of central Ohio there are regulations for how big the parcels are in certain districts. Some of the people live on family land that has been there for generations. To these people, the regulations on the land are viewed as unconstitutional breaking of privacy. But to the planner, these regulations are for the good of the overall community development.  This example can be taken outside of the size regulation of parcels in certain districts. Another example could be people that want to paint their house a crazy pink color. The neighborhood may once again have regulations against that. The planner views these regulations as good because they help property values and keep a nice feel for the community. But some individual members may once again view this at breaching their private free choice.

high and norwich norwich Sidewalk (1)

Urban Avengers: MAPS-Mini

In the opinion of the Urban Avengers, the MAPS-Mini Survey had many weaknesses and only partially fulfilled its purpose. One of the most important shortcomings was that the survey did not ask about traffic pattern — which has a huge effect on the way a street should be utilized. DSC00444The survey also did not ask about what kind of commercial and residential uses the segment included. The use of the street can influence what should be in place there, and if it serves a purpose. The difference between the two should have an effect on how they are scored. The walkability to things such as parks and/or transit stops should be incorporated into the survey. While the need for a transit stop or park on every segment of street is not necessarily needed, the distance from one to the next should be considered. While the survey asked many questions, for several of the questions, a concise answer could not be given. DSC00447Throughout the segment the streetscape changes and the answers aren’t always clear-cut yes or no answers, but frequently could be both.

Throughout the walk the group wanted to report of the quality of buildings. The question of “Are the buildings well maintained?” does not address quality. The group also wanted to include the presence (or lack of) gardens into consideration. The environmental backdrop of the street is also important; a street in a college town should look different than a downtown street. Another item the group wanted to report, but the survey did not ask, was whether the road had parking, and whether it was a one-way or two-way traffic pattern.

We found that the public and private realms mattered about the same. If either of the realms are in poor condition it brings down the other.DSC00448

The realms should be created equal because they coexist in the same area. If you have a beautiful park next to a rundown home, it makes the park look worse and brings down the appeal of the environment. But the public realm means more physically to the pedestrian, when the private means more to the psyche.

The idea of planners having a different mindset than the community members should not be the case. The purpose of this survey is to help the street for the community, to think like a community member. But we feel that graffiti is highly important to community members, graffiti gives a bad image for the community. Also the lighting of the streets shows importance on safety, which is of major importance in a community. Lastly, we feel that community members are likely to be more focused on safety and image of the streetscape, rather than things like buffers or tree coverage.