Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Community Appearance Is Much More Than Meets The Eye

Community appearance for many is narrowed to litter or clean up, maybe beautification.

But it is far more central than that, and to me it may qualify as an overarching strategy for Durham.

Many dismiss it as superficial while others fear that taken to an extreme it will homogenize a community.

Here are just 20 elements which I include when I talk about community appearance. And they all have to do with curb appeal but also revealing a community’s unique sense of place:

  • Historic Preservation and Repurposing

  • Archeological Preservation and Interpretation

  • Commercial and Housing Code Enforcement

  • Flora and Fauna and Urban Forestry

  • Litter Clean Up

  • Abatement of Weedy Lots

  • Mowing and Planting of Medians

  • Design Guidelines

  • Tree and Vegetation Buffers

  • Elimination of Illegal Dumping of Construction Waste

  • Right of Way Trees and Plantings

  • Gateway Landscaping

  • Flags, Banners, and Streetscape Signaling Arrival

  • Roadway and Sidewalk Wayfinding

  • CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design)

  • Curbside Waste Removal and Recycling

  • Broken Windows Approaches to Policing and Crime Reduction

  • Graffiti Removal

  • Street Maintenance

  • Increased Valuation and Tax Base

Communities that ignore or dismiss appearance without looking at it holistically risk many things…erosion of its unique sense of place and community pride, as well as the economic and cultural importance of being different, to name just a few.

Any scientific public opinion poll in Durham, always shows almost universal agreement that appearance is an important or very important community priority.

This is an area in which Durham cannot be complacent and I’m eager for the day when elected officials and public servants speak out about appearance as an overarching strategy for community improvement and protect it as a priority.

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