Sunday, January 8, 2012

Two different approaches to making even the smallest slivers of land count for people

Here at NeighorSpace, we think small is great, not because we suffer from low self esteem, but because the small parcels of land that we protect are important to people.  They're the places where kids play and where people garden and walk their dogs.  Without them, the County's older, inner suburbs, shown in the map at right, would be far less enjoyable places to live.

In our December newsletter, we highlighted the smallest of our small plots, Greenbrier Memorial Garden, weighing in at a whopping 0.03 acres.  If you read the article, or, better yet, visited the site, you have a sense of how nice the garden is.  It's a serene and inviting spot and a true credit to the work of the the Greenbrier Garden Club to memorialize community members who have passed on with a space that is a wonderful enhancement to the Greenbrier Neighborhood.

Even smaller parcels of land are making big impacts.  In Montgomery County, planners are focused on street edges - small slivers of land that tend not to make a very big impression on us, especially if we happen to be passing in a fast-moving car.  But these places, too, are important to people, as they often are part of the gateway to homes, schools and businesses and provide a buffer for those of us on foot.  Montgomery's year-long project has resulted in plans that will beautify this real estate, collect drainage and wastewater, accommodate utilities and provide space for pedestrians and off-road bicyclists.

In New York City, Greenstreets identfies small isolated paved areas, the leftovers of city grid-making (median strips, triangles, cul-de-sacs), and, with the help of the City Transportation Department, deep sixes the pavement and plants flowers, shrubs and trees. And, recently, the early focus on urban greening was expanded to include improvements related to pedestrian and vehicular safety, ecology and stormwater management.  Since its inception 15 years ago, 2,574 paved areas have been transformed into small, pint-size parks and there are plans to create another 40 a year through 2017.

So, we hold our heads high on account of our "small" focus. But let there be no doubt that conserving small sites is huge work. If you can help us with site monitoring (visiting our properties and helping us document their condition periodically) or site improvement (especially if you're an arborist, landscape architect or grading contractor) we would love to connect with you - email me.

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