My final vision of the park hasn’t changed much from the beginning of the semester. New seating, playgrounds, renovated historical building and a basketball court would greatly improve the area. I didn’t understand the importance of seating in public spaces before this class. Prior to this course, I didn’t even notice benches until there weren’t any to sit in. For the most part, my peer feedback agreed with these ideas and I think the local community would enjoy the gentrification of the park so they could use it.
There are three main groups who need to approve of the public project: the City of Aberdeen officials, the citizens of Aberdeen, and the Historical Society of Harford County. For years, city officials have been wanting to be productive with the park so once an official plan for funding is in place, there shouldn’t much push back from the city to renovate the park. If the public sees that their input is taken into serious consideration, then I think they will come to approve of the project. Most likely the most difficult group to convince of the project will be the Historical Society of Harford County, from whom we approval in order to either move the building or renovate it. If we are able to create a concrete plan on how the building will be renovated step-by-step, the Society might be able to be convinced.
Since the park focuses largely on the renovation of a historical building, the cost of the project will be steep. However, there are several ways to fund this historical project, including the Maryland Heritage Fund (up to $10,000 in grant funds), Maryland Historical Trust (grants, loans, and tax credits) and the 10%/20% Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. If the city applies for these grants and credits, a large chuck of the total cost should be covered.
There will be cost of general maintenance such as landscaping care, which will be covered by the city. The city already pays for the current landscaping services, but there will be a need for additional funds for garbage collection and other upkeep needs. I expect for the city to pay for the upkeep, but this should be able to create more jobs for the locals.
The greatest challenge of creating a sustainable built environment is balancing the economic, human, and environmental factors.Creating the space requires funding from either the public or the private sector, so there needs to be an allocation of public funds or a pulling force to draw in investors. The public needs to be able to voice their concerns and opinions. Also, if the local area is to be damaged or the locals are forced to be relocated, these issues need to be addressed. Finally, the built environment needs to be environmentally sustainable which means a small ecological footprint and maintaining the natural capital.
Being a leader of a community, it is vital that the public has the ability to influence their community. Through the use of public hearings and surveys, the public has the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns to both their local government and the businesses in their area.
Aberdeen B&O Park needs a lot of work and funding, but there is potential in the public space. My vision for the space is for the historic train station to be renovated into a community center and the plot of land to be become a park for children. Seating, a basketball court, a playground, games are all components to improve the space. However, before any of these ideas can be materialized, the public needs to become involved in this endeavor. The park doesn’t need to be rezoned and eminent domain needs to occur since it is already public space.
In order for the project to be successful, the public needs to be involved. We can do this by taking surveys of the local citizens, and holding public hearings. Hopefully any public or political issues that need to be addressed will come up during this time period. Some political issues that could come up are the courses of action of how to renovate the historical site, or the question of why building the park and renovating the station. The question of why renovating the station could be answered with that it is a part of our local history, sets the area apart from other cities and therefore deserves to be preserved. Creating a park on that site would be beneficial to the local area as it can create a sense of community for the locals, and keep kids out of trouble. As for the question of how the renovation will take place, architects who focus on historical preservation would be needed to answer those questions.
The main drawing point of my public project is a historical site. The historic Aberdeen B&O Train Station lies on the Aberdeen Railroad Station Food Park. Before any renovation of the actual park can be done, the city needs to make a decision to either move the station before restoring it or restoring it as it is. A private company could purchase the site and renovate it into a new space such as a small community center. Whatever path they decide, it will be expensive to do so. There are several ways to fund this historical project though, including the Maryland Heritage Fund (up to $10,000 in grant funds), Maryland Historical Trust (grants, loans, and tax credits) and the 10%/20% Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Other issues that could come up, are any unforeseen structural or costs with the train station during renovation.
All these issues based on the historical building needs to be addressed even before work on the park itself begins. However, once the park is complete, I believe that all people in the area will have access to it and the community will benefit from it.
Aberdeen B&O Railroad Station Park
- Opening Saturday April 8, 2017
- Family Fun and Games For All Ages
- Build A Bird House
- Basketball Court
- Train Playground
- Giant Chess, Giant Connect Four
The main goal for all of these pictures is improve the public space. I gathered these pictures together with the hope that each would help bring the community together.
Keeping with the train theme, I thought it would have been appropriate to have a mock train set up for the kids to play on.
This is an example of seating for park goers, and a small free library box for people to enjoy. The library box is meant to encourage reading among the community.
The permanent hopscotch looked simple and inexpensive to make and I thought young children would enjoy it.
Every park needs something for children to climb on, and I thought we could use reclaimed wood to create it.
Seating is a necessity in parks, and this one has the extra perk since it doubles as a park table.
I had an idea to make this a community project. Similar to Home Depot’s kids workshop days, there could be a day where at the local library or other community center, children could make their own bird houses and it would be set up in the park as a functional art piece.
The giant connect-four and chess seems like a good way for both the parents and children to play with each other or others at the park.
Basketball court at the park is so that kids, teens, and adults can play basketball.
Quite frankly, I think every park needs a swing set, and this one looks easy to set up.
Lastly, the park needs places for people to sit and be able to watch over their kids.
- October 22, 2016; 11:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.; Aberdeen Railroad Station Food Park, MD
- During my hour and a half observation, no one entered the park even though it was a Saturday. There were 6 teenagers and 3 adults passing by on their way to the local stores for snacks and groceries. Other than these people walking by, there wasn’t anything happening at the park.
- The weather is windy and cloudy so that might be a reason why there aren’t more people at the park. Temperature wise it is still a bit chilly but the fall air feels nice. Looking around the scenery isn’t the best because there isn’t much at the park besides the historic train station (is isn’t restored and the public can’t enter it), a small stage, and a closed food stand.
- There is a historic train station on the park space, but it is currently unsafe for the public to enter it. Therefore, it is blocked off with fencing and tape, the overall look of the structure does not add any appeal to the park setting. The city of Aberdeen is still debating with the local historic society about whether or not to move the structure before restoring it. Nearby the park, there are some neighborhoods with children and other restored historic houses.
- Besides walking past the park to get to the nearby shops, aren’t interacting with the park. There aren’t even any tables or benches to sit on, so it isn’t unexpected.
- The park was originally designed as a place for food trucks to congregate, but over time they found other destinations with better revenue. Currently, the park isn’t being used for anything besides as a holding place for the train station.
- The glaring problems right now are the train station which needs restoring, no seating besides the stage, and no playground for kids to play on. The train station needs to be restored before any further deterioration. Also, seating and picnic tables should be added so that people have the option to enjoy the outdoors or eat outside. Neighborhoods near the park have elementary school-aged children who could use a playground to play on after school.
- The city of Aberdeen is small with a population of about 15,580 as of 2015. About 58.9% of the population is white, 30.5% is black, and about 5.3% is mixed-race. Housing options vary from buying and owning a luxury houses, renting apartments, and buying affordable homes. Close proximity to Interstate 95, Route 40, and train lines made Aberdeen good for businesses. Aberdeen is also home to an operational train station and several buses. Businesses range from Frito-Lay, Clorox, Saks Fifth Avenue, Rite Aid, Pier 1 Imports, and family owned businesses and restaurants. The biggest draw to Aberdeen is the army base, Aberdeen Proving Ground, where about 2,000 people live, and another 21,000 work. (not all 21,000 employees work in the Aberdeen base, some working the neighboring base in Edgewood, MD)
- The city was named after the Aberdeen, Scotland by immigrating Scots around 1800. There have been some new businesses popping up around the town, such as the new IHOP that recently opened. Unfortunately, the big issue in the city is violent crime rates which are 22% higher than the national average.
- The Women’s Giving Circle is a charity that gives to nonprofits focusing on women and family needs, and they had just given 14 grants totaling $45,750. Another big story is that the Cal Ripken World’s Series will no longer be held in Aberdeen due to its cost.
- I feel that the park has the potential to be great. The location of the park is easily accessible to local neighborhoods, the high school, and local businesses. Restoring the train station could bring additional tourism to the area, further helping the local economy. While the park lays empty, it wastes its potential.
In 1885, the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad company built a train station, in the city of Aberdeen. It continued operations until 1958, when the station stopped serving passengers, and has since fallen into disrepair. Currently, there is nothing on the lot, besides the train station, (which the general public cannot enter) and a closed food stand. Therefore, isn’t any incentive for the local people to go to the park.
In 2014, for safety reasons, the station had to be moved from its original foundation to 50 feet back away from the tracks. This move had cost between $50,000 and $80,000, but there has not been any significant renovations or repairs since then. City officials, historic preservation societies, state representatives, and local citizens have been debating about what to do with the station. One proposition is to move the station to a different park and repair it, in order to gain tourism. However, there are several issues including budget constraints, approval from the historical preservation society, and the question of whether or not it would survive another move.
My hope is that a decision will be made about what to do with the building, so that any plans about what to do with the space can move forward. If the structure were to remain on the lot, it would have to be renovated and repaired for safety reasons, before anything else were to happen to the park itself. A repaired station, could draw in more attention than a regular park. If the structure is moved, the park improvements could begin immediately afterwards. Whichever direction the city chooses, the plan will cost a significant amount of money. Whether or not the building will remain on the premises, I would like the station to be repaired, a mid-sized playground and benches to be placed on the lot, the food stand to reopen and landscaping.
There are several issues about the park that will impact the surrounding area, besides financial constraints. A large number of people would like to see improvements to the area, but others are content with how the park is currently. Also, the park improvements could potentially increase property values, which could drive residents out of their homes. Regardless of whether or not the structure is moved, either direction will be expensive to the city.
That being said, I believe that there is potential use for the area, which is not being implemented. The location of the existing park is very good, since it is within walking distance of several local stores, neighborhoods, and the high school. However, most people do not stop at the park when traversing between the areas. Changes to the park should not be massive, since it is a small park and the surrounding area is unlikely to grow exponentially. It would not be sustainable for the city to design the park to be able to hold 400 people, when the surrounding area is unlikely to grow that large.
I do not personally live in the city, so I would not be as directly impacted as the denizens. Before any changes are made, I would like there to be surveys from the locals about what they think should be done with the park. After this step, a plan and budget should be drawn up, and be put forward in city public council meetings, where citizens and city officials can discuss it. Social media pages and websites could also be implemented, in order to obtain more citizen opinions. Funding could be raised by asking for donations from businesses or from tax money. Businesses could assist in funding the park, and in exchange the park could have signs, benches, or bricks (or a combination of the three) advertising them. They could also donate building or landscape materials for the park.
Whichever path the city decides to do with the structure, the park needs improvements if the city wants it to remain a park. A decision with regards to the train station needs to be made, and Aberdeen officials need to hear citizen input about the park. An open line of communication needs to be established between all parties involved in order to negotiate and improve the park.
What makes a good public space? Each public space is different, fitted to work for its own town, city, or community. However, there are some common characteristics shared between excellent public spaces.
- green open spaces
- connected neighborhoods
- sense of pride
- places for people to congregate
- a good mixture of different ages
- engagement of activity
Pictured below is New York Public Library and Bryant Park, located in New York City, New York.
As you can see the open space is inviting to its visitors with its open space and its focus on pedestrians. The visitors pictured are engaged in conversation with each other or observation of the scenery. There is also a mixture a people of different ages, varying from a toddler, to business people, to senior citizens. My own personal preference for public spaces is the ability to easily walk to the place and find seating in order to read or engage in activities suitable for the area. This park features all of those due to its proximity to the library, seating availability, and the engagement of its patrons.