Who wasn’t there to see it! The stakes were high. Recent private-sector investments had begun steering the borough’s future. Neighborhood development could be a double-edged sword. Gentrification – also known nowadays as the G-word, as being ostracized by urban theorists – falls in which side…? You know the answer.
Many residents and visitors, who came by, were eager to learn about this research that proposes opportunities to connect and activate shared open space in Staten Island's North Shore. The audience included:
The Cornell team examined the spatial, social and economic factors surrounding the North Shore. Considering both current and future development, they recommended different ways the North Shore’s existing cultural assets could contribute to greater connectivity among its neighborhoods, residents and visitors.
The team had started their research by collecting data in demographics, zoning, land use, job distribution and growth, transportation infrastructure, open space network, and resilience.
We organized large community meetings to identify challenges. The research team gained further insight by interviewing individual stakeholders, as well:
- Developers who lead local projects such as Empire Outlets, Lighthouse Point, New York Wheel, New Stapleton Waterfront, and Urban Ready Living;
- City and elected stakeholders from NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, NYC Department of Transportation, New York State Assembly, and Staten Island Community Boards;
- Community members from Bay Street Landing Homeowners Association, Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership, NYC Arts Cypher, Second Saturday Staten Island, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, St. George Greenmarket, St. George Theatre, Staten Island Artists Building Corporation, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, Staten Island Makerspace, Staten Island Museum, and Staten Island Yankees, among others.
We drew key themes and challenges from these meetings:
- Need for coordination among artists and arts organizations to advocate for programming spaces in public grounds and new developments;
- Small business development;
- Improving wayfinding, transit connectivity and frequency; and
- Building on existing community efforts.
Good news is, challenges inspire opportunities. Community members brought up various suggestions in meetings, such as building light rail in North Shore and creating art installations in the Staten Island ferry.
The Cornell team also walked and photographed sites to gain a better understanding of the neighborhood and pedestrian experience. They assessed sites on their proximity to key commercial corridors, type of ownership, zoning structure, existing community partnerships, and built environment.
The research culminated with proposals for four sites identified with potential for activation:
1) St. George-Tompkinsville waterfront:
Recommendation: Building public art installations in the short-term and a boardwalk in the long-run that would connect the waterfront stretching from the Ferry Terminal to Tompkinsville and Stapleton.
2) Tappen Park and surroundings:
Recommendation: Establishing a park conservancy to fund revitalization through art, food vendors and public programming.
3) Stapleton waterfront:
Recommendation: Improving wayfinding to provide easy access to the waterfront, and building temporary art and design installations to enhance pedestrian experience.
4) Bay Street - Richmond Terrace Intersection:
Recommendation: Installing wayfinding tools to overcome unsafe pedestrian and cyclist conditions and to establish neighborhood identity at this critical location right outside of the Ferry Terminal, which is the first point of introduction to St. George.
The Cornell team led by Architecture Art Planning (AAP) NYC
executive director Robert Balder
received many questions from the excited audience after their presentation. Everyone was curious about what was going to happen to our study. Thanks to the Cornell researchers Anni Zhu, Min Koung Choi and Li Yu Pan, this invaluable report will help us with bringing decision makers to the table to take concrete steps for Staten Island’s prosperous future.
Staten Island Arts submitted a proposal in response, and was one of four projects selected. The SI Arts proposal sought to establish a replicable model of inclusive development through public art to link neighborhoods, starting with Staten Island's North Shore. Our collaborative project will provide planning and policy recommendations to stabilize the cultural assets of neighborhoods.
Cornell student team joined the project for the Fall 2014 semester to conduct
the first phase of this research – an initial analysis of the neighborhood to
identify underused public sites with potential for activation via art. This
report summarizes their research and findings.