The Idea of Market Street Park

Market Street Park in Huntingburg, Indiana was formally dedicated on Friday, October 12, 2018 and hosted its inaugural event over the weekend of October 13.  Below are remarks made by TSWDG Principal Ron Taylor, FASLA during the dedication ceremony.

IMG_9314- Web

Good afternoon.  I am humbled that Mayor Spinner asked me to say a few words.  As the landscape architecture and design firm for the park, we tend to do a lot of talking through the design process, helping to steer the community’s vision and give form to their ideas. But when we reach this point, we usually tend to fade to the background.

Today is the community’s day—the day that Huntingburg gets to take ownership of its newest park and see the results of all of their visioning and hard work.  So I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to say a few words and share a few thoughts with you today.

On behalf of Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group, our principals, our staff, and our many other consultants who worked on this project, welcome to Market Street Park!

When the community first began exploring the idea of pursuing the stellar designation, there was this Idea of Market Street ParkCommunity leaders had a vision for a central gathering space that would bring residents and visitors alike to downtown.

During the early community listening sessions, residents gravitated to the Idea of Market Street Park as they thought through the types of things it would provide them in their everyday lives.

Local businesses embraced the Idea of Market Street Park, understanding the impact that this space would have on retaining the best and the brightest employees and creating a unique space that defined not only the quality of life for their employees but also helping to define their core community business principals in the community they call home.

And throughout the design process, we worked with a technical committee of local residents who clearly understood the Idea of Market Street Park.  Technical committee discussions of bricks and mortar, form and function, never veered too far from the park’s overall purpose and vision.

While no one knew the exact final form this park would take when we began the design process, the community had the Idea of Market Street Park and an unwavering expectation of what this space had to be for the community.

Today, we get our first glimpse of that idea!

Today, we can, for the first time, see and touch the physical forms that are a result of the community’s work over the last four years.

From a design perspective, the Idea of Market Street Park is bigger than its bricks and mortar. Its more about what this space can mean for the community.

Progressive communities around the world have focused on creating unique outdoor spaces that help define their culture, provide residents with unique opportunities, and improve the overall daily experience and quality of life in their community.  Often, these spaces end up defining the community.

New York has Central Park. Indianapolis has Monument Circle.  Even in smaller communities across Indiana, the courthouse square often serves as the heart of those communities.

Residents and community leaders here understood the need for a central gathering space in the community and understood what a downtown park would mean for Huntingburg.

This park will now become the signature gathering space in Huntingburg.

Its design is unique—the result of a collaborative design process with community residents and leaders.  There is no other place like this in the world. The park’s spaces and circulation routes were designed specifically for this community and for the community’s vision of how this space could serve Huntingburg’s needs.

The park provides a contemporary, forward-looking expression that pays honor to the building behind me, Old Town Hall, the symbol of this great community.  Throughout its three acres, the walks and structures help to frame views and reinforce the importance of this structure, while providing unique spaces and experiences for today’s park users.

The space is meant to provide the setting for Huntingburg’s festivals, while also providing a quiet place for everyday activities in the heart of the community. Tomorrow, the German-American Pavilon will come alive with Blues music.  In the summer months, the Farmers Market Pavilion at Menke Plaza will fill with residents on Market Day providing a source of locally-produced fresh food and a place for neighbors to greet one another.  And each Spring, the Farbest Foods Common with spring to life as the center of the Community’s Garden Gate Festival.

But these aren’t the only uses of this park.

The Park will provide a place for residents to stroll and enjoy a casual lunch hour.  It will provide a quiet place for contemplation.  It will provide a place for residents to meet and hang out downtown.  It will provide shoppers along Fourth Street with a place to take a break and relax.  And this park will ultimately be the signature symbol of this community.

Market Street Park will be Huntingburg’s new Town Square!

Community leaders and the residents who were engaged in the design process understood this. They understood the Idea of Market Street Park and what it could mean to the community. And today, we celebrate that idea!

As I think back to when this all started, and think about the many community conversations with residents, I’m left with a couple of my own thoughts about this Idea of Market Street Park.

Over the last four years, I have seen how this community thinks—how it responds to its residents.

I have seen how this community embraces its heritage and history while keeping an eye on the future.

You don’t have to be in Huntingburg long before you understand the pride and ownership this community takes in ensuring that Huntingburg is a unique and welcoming place.

And I have seen the City’s dedication to creating a community where younger people want to stay and thrive.

I believe that this Park symbolizes all of these things well.

When I think about what this park will be, a couple of things come to mind.

I suspect that sometime this weekend, a grandparent or parent will sit on the community swings with a child and share a story about what it was like to grow up in Huntingburg, or share the history of Old Town Hall.

Somewhere in this park, two kids will fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives together—maybe even getting married right here in the park.

I imaging that people will come here for family photos or senior pictures, using this great structure and the park as the ideal setting to capture images of their life.

I suspect that this park will play host to many Raider State Championship Victory celebrations in the coming years as well as school plays or band performances.

I suspect there will be community gatherings and rallies here that fill the park.

And I suspect that this community will find ways to use these great new park features that have not even been imagined yet.

And most importantly, beginning today, I think a whole new generation of Huntingburg residents will have their lasting, lifelong memories of growing up in Huntingburg shaped by the activities that take place in this park.

To me, that is what the Idea of Market Street Park is all about.

Congratulations to the community and welcome to Market Street Park!

 

 

Advertisements

Letter to our Clients Concerning President Trump’s Proposed 2018 Budget

100_2711This week we got our first look at the new federal budget proposed by the Trump Administration, and like many other businesses and organizations, have concerns about many of the critical federal programs being eliminated.  Recent focus on deregulation, the executive order reorganizing the federal oversight structure, and now the proposed elimination of so many critical funding programs that local communities leverage in their work causes us great concern, both as a small business as well as members of the communities where we work and live. As we look across our list of current projects, we see many projects that would not be occurring without these key funding programs, and we see many Indiana and Kentucky cities and towns that would lose the ability to do the things that are so vital to their ongoing efforts to improve their communities.  Like others, we are still trying to understand the details of this proposed budget and we will work to contact our local and congressional representatives to ensure that they have a full understanding of the detrimental impacts that will result if the budget passes as proposed.   Below are statements released by the American Planning Association and the American Society of Landscape Architects that detail the areas of concern which are being raised by the planning and landscape architecture professions.  We encourage our clients to spend the time necessary to understand these impacts and to work with their local and state representatives to ensure that Kentucky and Indiana’s congressional delegations understand how important these programs are to local communities.

APA Statement on FY 2018 Federal Budget Proposal

American Planning Association, Washington DC

The federal budget proposal released today utterly fails to meet the needs of the nation’s communities. If the proposed cuts to essential community development, housing, and transportation programs are enacted, communities across the nation would face serious threats to economic growth and prosperity. At a time when cities and towns face significant challenges to infrastructure investment, affordable housing, and economic development, the elimination of critical and proven federal programs is damaging and unacceptable.

The budget sent to Congress today would eliminate several critical programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME, and Choice Neighborhoods. In addition, the budget would end support for New Starts transit funding, TIGER grants for key transportation projects, and the Economic Development Administration.

These programs are the foundation of locally led efforts to build stronger, more just, and more prosperous communities. They not only have a proven track record of success and bipartisan support but also act as tools for leveraging private sector investments. The irresponsible cuts in this budget also make our communities more vulnerable and less safe with cuts to coastal mapping and resiliency efforts and the elimination of pre-disaster mitigation planning grants.

Simply put, the scope of these cuts places jobs, development projects, and public health at risk. Further, the proposed changes threaten to undermine expressed priorities of President Trump, ranging from infrastructure investment to boosting growth and jobs.

Planners stand ready to work with Congress and the Administration on policies and programs that will strengthen communities. This budget would take the country in the opposite direction. The elimination of federal programs that help communities plan and prosper will harm essential local housing, transportation, and economic development priorities. They will weaken job creation, hinder private sector growth and investment, and slow efforts to expand opportunity.

APA opposes efforts in this budget that undermine local community development. In particular, APA strongly rejects any effort to eliminate key programs like CDBG, HOME, Choice Neighborhoods, TIGER grants, and transit assistance. Now is the time for federal partners to assist communities in creating stronger and more economically vibrant places. However, this budget moves the nation in the opposite direction. APA calls on Congress to reject these cuts and support essential investments in the future of our communities.

ASLA Statement on Trump Administration FY2018 Budget Blueprint

American Society of Landscape Architects- Washington, DC

On March 16, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) released this statement in response to President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal:

“We are disappointed with President Trump’s budget blueprint, which calls for dramatic cuts to many of the federal programs and resources that strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and economic development.

President Trump’s recommendation to completely eliminate two critical community development programs, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program, is short-sighted. TIGER has been one of the most successful and popular programs with policymakers, communities and transportation planners like landscape architects – the number of applications far exceeding the amount of available funding.

ASLA is also extremely concerned that President Trump’s proposal would drastically reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by a staggering 31 percent, thereby severely crippling key air and water quality programs and critical climate change research and resources. The budget recommendation purports to increase funding for EPA’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds by $4 million.  However, the budget also eliminates $498 million from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Water and Wastewater loan and grant program and instead recommends that rural communities access EPA’s State Revolving Funds, thus leaving State Revolving Funds with a $494 million reduction in funding. 

The Society recently released recommendations for updating and strengthening all forms of infrastructure, including enhancing the Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program, expanding State Revolving Funds, increasing funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and others. Together, these recommendations will help provide communities with the much-needed infrastructure upgrades to become more livable and resilient places to live, work and recreate.  Unfortunately, if enacted, this Trump budget proposal would leave many communities vulnerable.

We understand that this proposal is the start of a long legislative process. The Society will continue to work with legislators to ensure that funding is available for sound infrastructure solutions that American communities are demanding.”

A Special Message to our Families, Clients and Colleagues on TSWDG’s 5th Anniversary

ben wedding and tswdg holiday 2015 085Today, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group is celebrating our 5th Anniversary and we wanted to take a moment to reflect and to thank our staff, family, friends, and colleagues who have supported us and  helped to make the firm a success.  We started this endeavor five years ago with the notion that we could make a difference in the communities where we work and live.  We believed that our creative and collaborative approach to planning and design would be welcomed in communities across Indiana and Kentucky and  that we could truly help to improve the quality of life in communities.  We wanted to be engaged in our local communities, invested in the places we lived, and to be active leaders in our home communities.  And we wanted  the firm to be a place that fostered new ideas and creativity, attracted bright and creative individuals, and garnered credibility and recognition based upon our investment, passion, and engagement.  As we take an opportunity to look back over the last five years, we would like to believe that we are off to a successful start in many of the things we had hoped to do when we started TSWDG.

Some of our notable accomplishments over the last five years include:

  • In the past five years, we have worked in over 30 communities in Indiana and Kentucky.
  • We have focused our marketing efforts on projects that truly impact the communities where we work, and we have developed clients we’re proud to partner with.
  • We have worked on over 45 projects in the last five years and have had several repeat clients or several projects from the same client.
  • Our work has spanned the urban design and planning spectrum from community comprehensive plans, to master planning, to design and construction.
  • We have grown from one office in a business incubator in Louisville to two fully-functional offices in Louisville and Indianapolis and are about to expand again with membership in Current Blend, a work co-op space in Huntingburg to support the stellar efforts there.
  • We have doubled in size from three to six employees, and anticipate additional growth in the coming weeks.
  • Our sales and revenues have steadily grown in each of the years since our inception, building to a record high in 2016.
  • And we have received recognitions and awards for both our projects and our personnel.

We are proud of what has been accomplished over our short five years, and are excited by what we see happening with the firm as we begin our 6th year.  To date, 2016 is proving to be our best year ever:

  • Our relationship building is resulting in continual repeat commissions with several clients demonstrating that the relationships we continue to build are leveraging strong and lastinngn relationships.
  • The approval of our Fourth Street project in Huntingburg last week was our largest sale to date for the firm (unseating the Indy Greenways Master Plan).
  • In 2016, we have nearly doubled our sales from 2015 (get ready to get busy!).
  • We have continued to be recognized with design awards and other recognitions that have solidified our place within the industry and made the firm a credible contender in many of our areas of practice. We also were recently nominated for the Inc.Credible Awards from Greater Louisville, Inc. recognizing up and coming businesses in the Louisville area.
  • Our staff continues to be recognized for their professional distinctions including Haley’s recent inclusion in the “45 most influential members of the Young Professionals Association of Louisville’s Insider 502 program,” Scott’s upcoming election to Fellowship with the American Society of Landscape Architects, and Liz receiving her landscape architecture license just this week (BTW- that means we also have  doubled our number of licensed landscape architects in the firm).
  • And we have continued to develop and deliver creative and sound solutions and products on all of our work.

While we are proud of these successes,   we are particularly proud of the investment TSWDG and its staff have all made in our communities.  We are investing in our communities through volunteer service such as Kris’ artistic endeavors with Indy Parks and the City of Indianapolis, and Liz’s work with Relay for Life and the Bone Marrow Registry.  We are investing in community programs with efforts such as our sponsorship of Northside Soccer in Indianapolis, our ongoing conversations with the Indianapolis Parks Foundation about programming for the elderly and disadvantaged on Indy’s greenways, our membership with One Southern Indiana, and our sponsorship of the Southern Indiana Mayor’s Roundtable.  And we are invested in our professions with  engagement such  Haley’s involvement with YPAL, Amy’s leadership in APA and the Friends of the Ohio River Greenways, and Liz and Kris’s service on the INASLA Executive Committee. Each member of the firm  brings a passion that reflects the type of success and character we want to be known for, and we are proud to be so engaged in the communities where we work and live.

Over the past five years, we have been privileged to work with some amazing communities, wonderful clients, and creative landscape architects and planners. Thanks to all of our families, clients and colleagues for your support over the last five years. As we move into year six, we continue to be excited about the firm and about the opportunities that still await all of us.

10 Parks that Changed Indianapolis

The new PBS series “10 that Changed America” is a whirlwind tour of America’s architectural treasures: including great homes like Fallingwater and Monticello, masterpieces of landscape architecture like Central Park and the High Line, and triumphs of town planning like Philadelphia and Portland. Each episode stops by 10 places that changed the nation. With the upcoming premier of 10 Parks that Changed America, we asked our landscape architects and planners at Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group to identify the 10 significant parks in Indianapolis that helped, shaped or changed the City. See if you agree.  Here they are (in no particular order):

Garfield Park

DSCN9466

The oldest park in the Indy Parks system, it was the city’s first step in creating public open space. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Monon Rail-Trail

DSCN8245

While not the first trail built as part of the Indy Greenways system, development of this trail certainly put Indy Greenways on the map.

Eagle Creek Park

Eagle-Creek-Park-27579

Eagle Creek remains one of the largest municipal park in the country and provides residents with an experience usually reserved for larger state or national parks.

Martin Luther King Jr. Park

mlk2

Forever linked to a specific point in history, the park is significant because of Robert Kennedy’s speech on the day of the Martin Luther King assassination.  The events that day in this park prevented the city of Indianapolis from the unrest seen across the United States.

White River State Park

DSCN8905

This urban state park reintroduced Indianapolis to the White River and created a new model for urban civic parks.

Kessler Park and Boulevard System

DSCN9424

George Kessler’s plan for the creation of a parks and parkways plan put into place an enduring series of greenspaces, providing opportunities to access the city’s waterways.

Riverside Park

Riverside

One of Indianapolis’ oldest civic destinations, Riverside Park has a rich history and was a key park in the growing Indianapolis Parks system.

Indianapolis Cultural Trail

DSCN9906

While not technically a “park,” the cultural Trail established a new approach to the use of public open space within the city’s established rights-of-way.

Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park

Fort-Harrison-State-Park-27612

The transition of Fort Benjamin Harrison from active army base to state park serves as an example of how these types of properties can be reused.

Indy Greenways Full Circle Plan

Full circle

We took the liberty of adding “future greenways” to the park discussion. The new vision for Indy Greenways outlines over 250 miles of trail development through Marion County and will continue to transform how we move around Indianapolis.

10 Parks that Changed Louisville

The new PBS series “10 that Changed America” is a whirlwind tour of America’s architectural treasures: including great homes like Fallingwater and Monticello, masterpieces of landscape architecture like Central Park and the High Line, and triumphs of town planning like Philadelphia and Portland. Each episode in the series stops by 10 places that changed the nation. With the upcoming premier of 10 Parks that Changed America, we asked our landscape architects and planners at Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group to identify the 10 significant parks in Louisville that they felt helped, shaped or changed the City. Here they are (in no particular order):

Olmsted Parkways

Olmsted parkways

Olmsted’s influence cannot be ignored in Louisville. The parkway system he planned there, one of the more intact systems still in place, represents the forward social thinking he brought to the City.

Cherokee Park

cherokke park

One of Olmsted’s flagship parks, this park continues to provide a natural presence in the heart of Louisville’s eastside neighborhoods.

Iroquois Park

iroquois_park_web_header

This Olmsted-designed park on the City’s south side provides a “scenic reservation of forested hillsides and breathtaking vistas.”

Shawnee Park

shawnee

This Olmsted riverfront park still provides the open space and picnic grounds for residents in the northwestern portion of the City.

Waterfront Park

7

This downtown reclaimed waterfront park provides the setting for many of Louisville’s largest and most impressive events.

Portland Wharf Park

portland_wharf_web_header

This historic open space preserves the ruins of the Portland community, an historic portage village south of the Falls of the Ohio.

Louisville Loop

Sign3

Louisville’s planned 100+ mile trail system will link the community’s neighborhoods, parks, cultural facilities, natural areas, and other unique environments.

The Parklands of Floyds Fork

Jim Peterson Louisville Loop Photo

This eastside park represents a new model for development and operations of significant parks and open space.

Big Four Bridge

DSCN0192

While not technically a park, the conversion of the Big Four Railroad bridge opens pedestrian and recreational connections between Louisville and southern Indiana, greatly expanding the potential experiences of the region.

Jefferson Memorial Forest

jeffersonmemorialforest_zpsb8080c42

The nation’s largest municipal forest provides unique recreational opportunities usually only available in larger state or national parks.

Non-Traditional Strategies for a Non-Traditional Economy: “Where are the Fresh Approaches?”

Ron L. Taylor, ASLA, Principal                                  Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group

Albert Einstein is credited with saying that the definition of insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yet often we stay the course because conventional experience tells us that is the proven way.  But what happens when the apple cart is turned upside down?  What happens when we experience the worst economic conditions since the great depression?  And what happens when those traditional sources of solutions—whether they are ideas, funding, or other critical tools of our collective trades—are rendered obsolete by new and often frustrating conditions?  What are the non-traditional approaches to the new society?

Several years ago I conducted a strategic planning session.  We initiated a planning process that challenged everyone to look beyond their formal job expectations and define the passion that was the true root of their calling.  With that defined, we undertook a “fresh approaches” exercise where we challenged people to rethink how they did their jobs.  Were there new, creative ways to engage in their jobs that would re-energize them and speak to their professional passions? The responses we received from this exercise were across the board, from new approaches to the work week, to new methods of engaging with our communities. Each idea was presented in the form of a proposal, or rather a call to action.  In these proposals were the seeds of change that allowed a group of urban design and planning professionals to re-think and re-direct the larger strategies of our strategic plan.

When you look at the planning and design profession today, you quickly see that the practice is evolving at an accelerated pace—the context, in many cases, has rotated out of a traditional alignment. Many traditional funding sources are at risk.  Sources of some municipal revenue have been altered.  The traditional planning and design disciplines are becoming, quite frankly, quickly non-traditional.  So how do we adjust the practice to still provide communities the valuable services they need?  Is it big ideas that provide a major overhaul or the smaller ideas that help re-direct conventional thinking?

I am fascinated by the concept of a “little idea” that takes root and swells into something that simply cannot be smothered.  The Arab Spring revolution has been an extraordinary case study in this— watching a grass-roots movement swell and gain momentum to completely alter long-established governments to launch new standards of life.  Another example includes the recent “Occupy Wall Street” protests which began on Wall Street and have since gained traction in over 40 cities across the country.  Even the Tea Party movement, love it or hate it, is a good example of a small movement—a re-direction in thinking—that takes hold and becomes something more influential than ever imagined at its origin.  These “small ideas” illustrate the value and vibrancy of even the smallest thoughts.

So where are the next “fresh approaches?”  They are out there.  Some are underway.  Others are still ideas being worked out in someone’s mind who is aiming to make a change in their community.

One recent “fresh approach” is a group called Awesome Tampa Bay. The group is made up of 10 local “trustees of awesomeness” who have each donated $400 to the organization for community micro-grants.  The goal is to give out four $1,000 grants each year to community groups, entrepreneurs, or others to help get creative ideas off the ground.  While it might not seem like much money, the idea behind the micro-grants is to provide a funding source where none might currently exist.  T. Hampton Dohrman, one of the founders of Awesome Tampa Bay, told the Tampa Tribune, “It’s really a great, simple model. If there’s no money, it’s hard to make something happen. But $1,000 is enough to get something new off the ground. That’s what we are about.” (Tampa Tribune, September 21, 2011.  Full story can be found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/awesome-tampa-bay-to-fund-creativity-with-1000-micro-grants/1192585  ). Like other small ideas, this one began local dialogue and is growing.  Originally organized in Boston, the movement has spread with chapters now in several US cities and cities in Europe and Australia, with Tampa being one of the newest.

Does $1,000 really change the world?  In this non-traditional economy, it might just be the catalyst for the launch of the next Apple, the next major urban investment project, or as simple as the genesis of a new community campaign.  In any case, it does provide an idea that could very well spark something bigger than itself.

So where are the next “fresh approaches?” We are eager to hear your ideas.  To follow this conservation and others, like us on Facebook or email Ron Taylor at rtaylor@TSWDesignGroup.com .