Community Participation in Planning Projects: Governors Island as a Case Study

Written By: Talk of the Sound News

I read an interesting article that I wanted to share with the New Rochelle community. I think it touches on a few topics of current (and past) interest. The article (and audio interview) explains the planning process behind the redevelopment of Governors Island from a largely-unused and underutilized space to an engaging parkscape:

The most striking aspect of the article to me is the way that the designers and architects actively solicited public opinion. Not content with community forums alone, they solicited ideas through the use of post-it notes affixed to a Governors Island map. They then used data-mining software to look for patterns. Reflecting on these patterns helped direct the design of the island.

Reading this article led me to several key ideas/questions:

1) Transparent government not only guards against corruption, but it results in a higher quality outcome for the project as a whole.

2) What would happen if we applied this sort of civic outreach to planning in New Rochelle? What sort of responses would a New Rochelle post-it note campaign elicit? In other words, what sort of town do we aspire to live in?

3) I think that there are striking similarities between Davids Island and Governors Island. Both are islands that held abandoned military installations. What works for Governors Island might not necessarily work for Davids Island (or then again it may), but rather we can expect that the same method should obtain beneficial and appropriate results in both instances.