Your View: An alternative, pedestrian-friendly waterfront


To the editor:

After observing the debate from the sidelines for some time, I have a couple of points I want to make. I have 21 years of experience at an architecture firm specializing in pedestrian-oriented planning.

There is a need to balance the generation of revenue for public services through the creation of commercial, walkable amenities: shops, workplaces, community facilities and transit, with a landscaped waterfront.

Obviously, we need to balance taxes from commercial development and residents to pay for the public services; residents should not bear the burden alone. The distinction between a walkable town and sprawl is the ability to have a pedestrian-friendly stroll to a diverse group of amenities. Alexandrias walk score, for example, is 98 out of 100. It is healthy to have competition among those amenities, like waterfront restaurants: instead of having one that has a monopoly on the market its good to have several in competition to provide better quality and service.

There is a natural way to balance these competing goals imbedded in Old Towns existing pattern of uses: reproduce the existing long-term uses west of the waterfront on the waterfront. That is, there already are shops and restaurants to the west. Imitate these on a pedestrian only street fronting the water. 

Where there are presently warehouses on the waterfront with existing residences behind them, there should be a landscaped waterfront with no commercial development. The commercial development fronting the pedestrian-only street on the water between Duke Street and Queen Street would reflect the scale, density, character and height currently on the first two blocks of King Street, and include restaurants, shops, small hotels, community facilities and transit to reduce the dependence on automobiles with their safety and traffic problems.