Friday, March 20, 2009

Good riddance, cherry trees!

The city finally chopped down those stupid cherry trees in Mill River Park. Personally, I couldn't wait for them to come down. I've hated those trees ever since a clown jumped out of one and kidnapped my dog. OK, I'm making all of this up, but I'm hopeful that the constant whiners on the Advocate's Topix page will finally shut up about it. Here's the link to the article.

You have your regulars like "Wally," who thinks everything is a dirty political game to destroy Stamford's small-town character. It sounds like he fell asleep in 1943 and just woke up, but hasn't looked outside his window (yet somehow has internet access). Stamford hasn't been a small town in years.

Most of the other morons are just screaming about how awful it is that the city cut down the trees and how much they'll miss them. If they love these trees so much, why weren't they clamoring for the city to maintain this park earlier? It's been in a state of utter disrepair for at least a decade, but only now at the eleventh hour do they make their displeasure heard. This plan has been in the works for several years now, and while the trees pretty much had to go, it wasn't a secret operation by any means.

There are a few positive posts such as "Did it occur to anyone that maybe the new park will be way more awesome than the row of trees?" and "This is what really gets me. Stamford, with all its flaws and greedy unbridled growth, FINALLY proposes something that is NICE to the residential community, instead of slyly pandering to the business community, and all these people come out of the woodwork with negativity to try to shoot this down."

Well, so long, stupid cherry trees. Your long reign of terror is finally over. Long live DANNEL MALLOY MEMORIAL PARK!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen to that.

Whitemist said...

Did not realize this sparked such passion in you! I actually like how they did things..so far. The few trees they have left are a very fine way of remembering the gift that was given many years ago. The park itself has been people UN-friendly for many, many years (even when the pink tent festival was held there). and I can not wait for the walls to the river to come down and the river it self to truly be cleaned up. Right now it still reminds me of a cesspool. The work is also making the place very geese un-friendly and the ducks just went up the river a way (yes I like ducks and think the geese might make good stew). I do hope the final plans DO NOT include large amounts of concrete, but does create some nice pathways which were totally missing from the old park.

Always Home and Uncool said...

I understand people being upset about the sentimental value of the trees because people too often forgot the past. I love to make fun of Malloy for all the money, effort and touting of this park project as the Central-Park-to-be of Stamford (just as he seems to think the Urban Transitway will magically made downtown traffic disappear).

However, I totally agree with you. The area is a pit and I hope this project is a success.

patty said...

SING IT!

To quote Topix, THIS is an OUTRAGE!

I am looking forward to a revitalized park. I believe this one is a win for everyone.

Bob said...

The trees are (were) a piece of history but you are probably from a different generation who cannot appreciate or understand that. If the city ever took care of the park and its trees they would have lived longer. On the new park did anyone think of using the Mill River to produce hydro electricity? I was born and raised in Stamford and lived there for thirty-one years and I am now fifty-four. I moved because who could afford to live there. In 1986 I got an apartment in the Connecticut city I am now, it was about one year old and it was only $650.00 a month and the same in Stamford was $1,250.00 a month. I bought my home in 1991. Stamford was ruined by F.D. Rich and Urban Redevelopment. Sure, use Urban Redevelopment but look at a place like New York City and us that to format the city and do not make it the same. The train station took three tries before it became what it is today and it was still criticized. They took away the large parking lot from under I-95 across from the train station and made it a bus station. The streets are too small, zoning is all mixed up, part of Main Street was shut down. At least Florida does true traffic counts before anything is allowed to be built. I know people who left Stamford and built large housing complexes in Florida and were told based upon the number of houses that will be built and the approximate number of cars you have to add X number of lanes on the main roads going to what you want to build or no building permit, yes I did see the before in photos and the new homes in person. They are true houses with large lots, driveways, the correct amount of fire hydrants, street lights and catch basins. I have seen condos and apartment complexes in Stamford that have almost no parking and rarely has a Handicapped paring space. How can the city allow to have a complexes, be it condos, townhouses or over priced apartments with not enough parking spaces? Who the heck let Trump put that ludicrous building up that just damaged the view. One Landmark Square is no longer a Landmark. Stamford has had at least three city halls and they should have used Rippowam High School. The Yankee Division Highway was built and changed to a California style when turn around/passing lanes were infants. The good thing is the state has to plow it. Long Ridge Road should have been done the same way. So many corporations were brought to Stamford with the agreement of stay there for X number of years with no taxes. Naturally, when X ran out the vast majority let Stamford. The Sewage treatment plant was antiquated when it was built. Did anyone ever tell the power company that had to upgrade the system from the ridiculous 115,000-kV to the minimum of 345,000-kV? No. Stamford should have followed what was done in Bridgeport with a trash to energy plant. Miles of shore line and no wind towers, the power company needs competition. No, I am proud of the fact that I was born and raised in Stamford but I'll never regret leaving.

JR said...

Bob: Thanks for the informative, thoughtful reply. I'll try to touch on all of your points.

Of course, I was joking about the cherry trees. It is definitely a shame that they had to be cut down. Unfortunately, most of their lifespan came during a period when American cities were left to rot after the decline of our industries, the rise of drugs and crime, and the flight to the suburbs. If this park had been cared for in the manner it deserved, we'd already have a beautiful functional park replete with cherry trees. Instead, our city planners (for better or worse) had to make the tough call to basically wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

I can definitely appreciate your gripe with Stamford's affordability, or lack thereof. It's another symptom of the overinflated, credit-based real estate market that just crumbled. Unless there are a ton of blue-shirted MBAs moving to town, I can't imagine all the Avalon-type complexes will be able to keep their rents in the $2500s. And don't even get me started on the "luxury" buildings going up around town. Highgrove starts at $1.2 million. How many millionaires are there in little old Stamford, especially those who'd opt for an apartment over a house with a yard in North Stamford? Whatever happened to building nice, average apartment buildings like the ones at 65 and 77 Prospect Street (north of Chase Bank)?

I also realize that there have been lots of mistakes in city planning and execution. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and tell them to build the mall and Landmark Square somewhere else or in a different way. It decimated the downtown and turned Atlantic Street into a ghost town.

That said, the city was in bad shape when Rich came around with bold plans to reshape the downtown core, so it would've been hard for them to look at the empty shell of the city and turn him down. So, love him or hate him, you have to give Rich - and his counterparts in the city government - credit for sticking their necks out to try to make some much-needed improvements.

It was also a different time, when cities were dangerous, forbidding places. Everyone had left for the suburbs. No one walked around cities, not even in Manhattan (see: Taxi Driver). If you ask Mayor Malloy or anyone else about the ugly, fortress-like design of the Stamford Town Center, they'll explain that it was built at a time when we were turning inward, away from the "scary" streets, and making everything self-contained. (For more on bad planning, watch the video on BlogStamford's post http://www.blogstamford.com/2009/03/james-howard-kunstler.html>James Howard Kunstler.)

Now, having said all that, my biggest complaint about our city government is that it has been far too willing to, for lack of a better term, "sell out" and let the private sector get its way. While I've come to terms with Trump Parc, and think it will ultimately be a great addition to our downtown, I wholeheartedly agree that it's too small a lot for such a big building. I'm also tired of every developer trying to weasel out of its affordable housing requirements by offering cash or some other inferior alternative. Like you said, there are complexes built too close to the road, without enough parking, etc. These things need to stop. There need to be hard and fast standards.

To play devil's advocate (hee hee), there are so many holes in the ground and projects that have evaporated that I understand the city's willingness to negotiate with someone who will actually follow through with their project. However, I still think there need to be standards.

I'm glad that the planning for Springdale - specifically on Hope Street - is veering towards neighborhood-based codes and standards. They want to make it more "Main Street"-like, with retail at street level, apartments and offices above, and parking behind the buildings.

I HATE the corporate tax break game. There's no way to verify whether or not they pay off. Even if you went case by case, there are so many factors to consider and so many ways to cook the books that it'd be impossible to conclusively prove that such-and-such company created X jobs and X amount of tax revenue.

Unfortunately, this game is a fact of life for at least 48 states. I heard a piece on NPR where someone in the Connecticut state government said that they don't like it either, but if we don't offer these incentives, that will put us at a disadvantage to New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Until there's a federal law or at least limitations, it's going to go on.

Well, those are my thoughts! I hope you'd like to continue this discussion either here on the blog or directly via email (and that goes for anybody, of course).