We can choose better designed spaces

I applaud Anne Gentry’s piece in the April 30 News, not so much the Disneyland part (although in one respect, very much the Disneyland part) as the call for development of beautiful (ideally) or at least pleasant and relaxing public spaces, in our cities as well as more personally in our homes.

In the same way that every single thing about Disneyland reflects a deliberate design choice and unified vision, so too do municipalities, armed with vision of the town or city they imagine possible, deliberately design–if they are smart–walkable low-rise centralized shopping districts and numerous and variously sized open spaces (parks, beaches, town squares, so forth). The purpose of the design is to improve traffic flow and commerce, certainly, but more grandly–especially with respect to the open spaces and public artworks–to create a pleasing and desirable community, to foster in the minds of people spending seemingly all their waking hours toiling away at some drudgery of a job the illusion that life is beautiful and that their circumstances and surroundings, all things considered, are pleasant and perhaps even delightful.

Consider the cities and towns in Europe. Paris looks like it does (at least, until Tour Montparnasse and the Peripherique clotted the vista) because of the visions of Napoleon I and later Baron Haussmann. Towns all over Europe and the U.S. look like they do–centrally-located churches, town squares and markets, separate residential areas, parkspace, monuments–not by random chance but because of deliberate design.

New York City’s great Central Park is a series of deliberate design choices intended to create myriad recreational opportunities in a centralized location.

Space is limited. The point is this: Alpena can choose a cohesive, pleasing design, rather than the current mishmash. All that is needed is vision, will and cash.




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