Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pedestrian Perspective: Dove and Jefferson, Part Two (Hudson/Park and Code Violations)

In the last post, we started a walk down Dove Street in Albany's Center Square neighborhood.  We had just passed into Hudson/Park when the post ended.  Now we'll pick it up from just inside Center Square and then turn onto Jefferson, in Hudson/Park, where there is a battle beginning over code violations.  Let's go take a look a the problem, shall we?

The other side of my picture with the 'bad urbanism' comment from my past post.  I'd rather a building or something useful here, but it's a sweet view, nonetheless.
Looking  down Dove Street toward Hudson Avenue.  On the corner is a hairdresser, across from Dove and Hudson Books.
We're now crossing Madison Avenue, into the 'unofficial' designation between Center Square and Hudson/Park.  Center Square residents, diverse and interesting as they can often be, are more or less suburbanites with better taste in the built environment.  The neighborhood boundaries are just silly.  Center Square, to anyone who walks around it, would seem to be contained between Washington and Madison.  Instead, according to the Center Square Association, "Center Square includes the area bounded by Lark Street on the west, Spring Street on the north, South Swan Street on the east and Jay Street on the south, plus the upper portion of Lancaster Street between Lark and Willett Street."  Maybe some day we'll take a look around what the Association things, vs. what reality displays.  It'll be a fun investigation, seeing how CSA admits only the very nicest of streets. 

But now, we're about to cross, both visually and officially, into Hudson/Park, south of Madison Avenue.

Lots of parking! Everyone should immediately fall in love, since parking is the most important thing in the world.

Looking east down Jefferson Street.  This isn't where we're going, instead this is further downtown.  Still a nice street, though.
Hudson/Park is very likely the next up and coming neighborhood in the city.  It has it all: old architecture, easy access to a (yes, rather ghetto) grocery store, a very cute human scale in the buildings, a cobblestone street abutting a small park as its southern border and, with the new CDTA map, easy access to transit on both Madison and Delaware Avenues.  The Madison Avenue route is expected to receive increased frequency after a year, which will be even nicer for this area.

This renovation is new.  Last year it was just a crappy but cute building that constantly inspired me to think, "Geez, why doesn't someone renovate this?  It's perfect!"
The City of Albany is now beginning to do everything it can to stop this from happening.  Remember in my last post, when I said that all the most awesome things were the result of resident activity, rather than official city activity?  Yeah, that's not okay in this neighborhood.

This is fine, apparently.

Run down buildings?  Bring it.

All the charm of a suburban storage unit and in an entirely inappropriate environment.  No problems that I can see.
Oh no!! What is this, art?! Blech get it out of here.
What you see above is the inspiration behind a "Stop Work" order from the city.  Ignoring such an order can lead to hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines.  The problem?  It blocks the sidewalk......



Taken at the very straightest angle I could get.  I'm looking at an impediment of maybe four inches.  The city routinely blocks entire sidewalks for construction.  (Even in Center Square where all new construction is handed down by God himself!)
The planter and totem are both illegal, according to the city.  Funny, this might be the neatest thing on this entire Pedestrian Perspective yet.  According to an update on the Albany blog post, the the totem pole has been allowed to stay for thirty more days, instead of five, while the city reviews the petition to make it a permanent fixture.

So sign that petition!

I signed the petition. If you get the chance, I encourage you to do the same.

WHAT A HORROR SHOW GET IT AWAY GET IT AWAY.  I'm kidding, of course.  How cute is this?  It has to be one of the most winning things in the city.  Leave it alone, Albany!
Speaking of blocking the sidewalks, as part of the Pedestrian Perspective, a running blog will be featured during the winter months showing pictures of properties whose owners who don't shovel the sidewalk in front of their homes.  The Getting There blog on the Times Union site features an annual map of these properties.  Well I'll take that map and bring you pictures.  If these people can't get away with the heinous crime of beautifying the city, then people who hurt pedestrians should be shackled and flogged.  Though, I might be biased?

This fence is sadly in need of citizen art.

Too much parking.  Someday a building will be here... I hope.

Newer infill construction.  These places have cute lofts up top that you can see at night.
But yeah, the totem pole is the problem.  This is fine.  Ugh.

You know what this desolate stretch could use?  Some planters and totem poles.

This guy sells some really neat stuff, old records and whatnot.  But let's face it.  This is more of an impediment to walking than the planter and totem are.  I don't want to see either of them forced to stop, though.
This is the kind of neighborhood I want to live in. In some ways, I already do.  But homegrown supercuteness is what I, and I'm sure many others, just crave.
Stop work.  The city doesn't like fun.

These are the people I want in my neighborhood.  Well, no.  I don't.  My neighborhood is already set.  I want people like this where they're needed.  And this is where they're needed.  And they need us to support them.

Tell Albany to knock this shit off.  Stop by and sign the petition, call the city, post a blog or post this blog entry on your Facebook (actually, do that anyway), someone make t-shirts, stickers too, chalk drawings on every non-blocked sidewalk, let's so something.  This is ridiculous.

I've always kind of thought of this city as a bit provincial, not nearly as organically fun as Troy, for example.  Now it seems more and more like the creative writing teacher we all had in high school that wants their students to express themselves, that is, until one of them writes something they disagree with.

The people who put this totem up, Thomas Gabriels and Lorilee Rooney, deserve our thanks, not fines.  While some people can't shovel a 15'x3' path all winter long, they are contributing positively to making Albany a nicer place for all to experience.  Let's at the very least allow them to do so.

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