Monday, April 23, 2007

Salemtown Future Need #1: 3rd Avenue Civic Greenway With Aesthetic Wall Obstructing Wastewater Treatment Plant

Metro Water has lately been trying to make amends for being a perennial bad neighbor, periodically flooding the neighborhood with noxious smells before making changes last year to minimize odors (and in the next couple of years to eliminate them or at least they tell us it will be so). While eradicating the smell is obviously a more pressing need, Salemtown residents who live around 3rd Avenue, North also have to brook sight pollution: the ugly treatment tanks of Metro Water sit in the highly-visible valley that lies between Salemtown's eastern border and the Cumberland River.

That is why I believe that one of Salemtown's future needs that our next Council Member (after the Fall election) should address is conversion of the public property bordering the Treatment Plant to a landscaped greenway spur connecting to Morgan Park. That spur should include a decorative wall to hide the unsightly Plant from the view of the neighborhood. The strip of land running from Hume Street on the south to Coffee Street on the north is currently unlandscaped green space with a chain link fence and some trees and rose bushes.

Currently, there is nothing about the green strip that attracts pedestrians strolling around the neighborhood. The rose bushes on the chain link fence seem almost like a token, half-hearted effort by Metro to beauty-up the strip. The space as it stands more designed to encourage people to hurry past in cars, because there is really nothing to see but a sewer plant.

On the contrary, the 2002 Neighborhood Plan calls for this green strip to be a civic open space. To become civic, it is going to need sidewalks, landscape architecture, seating, and most importantly a blocking wall instead of a chain link fence running the length of the plant's edge. These are some of the basic ingredients that make small public spaces attractive. Other possibilities include water features (which could recall the plant-obstructed Cumberland River) and a possible Riverfront Redevelopment Plan Transit stop (perhaps a trolley driveway).

The greatest focus on development in Salemtown has been along 5th and 6th Avenues, while 3rd and 4th Avenues not received enough attention. Part of the reason is that 3rd Avenue suffers for Metro Water's unsightly presence. That is inexcusable, and our next Council Member should help us realize our Neighborhood Plan by working toward designating Metro Water's border as an attractive, civic greenway.

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