|What has become of the places I loved? - Sarah Guimond|
|Our standards have gone downhill fast...|
8th and Chestnut, Philly. Then and Now
A good preservationist's role is about more than just saving historic buildings. It is more so concerned with the overarching ideal of preserving once-proud American standards of urban fabric --our neighborhoods, our communities, our places worth caring about. That is what a good preservationist is ultimately trying to preserve when they question and oftentimes resist the status quo of poor choices and inferior development that the past 50 years of automobile-centric planning, AKA sprawl, has brought to the table. Architect and Urbanist Dhiru Thadani defines sprawl as a pattern of low density development that is characterized by dependence on the automobile, large lot residential development, and strict commercial development.
NOW is a crucial time to ask our city officials exactly what direction we plan to go in. A greater number of individuals now seek a denser, walkable, bikeable town, especially the young creative class Woodbury so desperately needs to attract and retain. More people every year are choosing not to drive (the numbers of drivers in the U.S. has steadily decreased since 2007). City planners should absolutely take this into account when proposing any new development. As an aside, I have always asked myself if we as Americans value our freedom so much, why do we continue to develop our towns in ways that enslave us to machines in the form of automobiles? Can there exist a better-planned suburb, one that is not a large metropolis that retains a respectable amount of personal space which made the original "idea" of suburbia so alluring? Yes, of course but it must favor Smart Growth over sprawl growth!
On a side note: It was recently explained to me the reason for the sparseness of the design lay in the fact that the Country Club grounds are largely wetland and that our current school system could not handle a more densely designed, mixed-use community. Fair enough, but I still find it worrisome that the Country Club, something designed to increase health and fitness of the social community, is being replaced by a convalescent rehab medical center. In other words, a proactive health establishment is being replaced by a reactive health establishment. The symbolism is crushing. Like some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, we are constructing medical-building monuments to America's increasingly destabilizing health which is largely brought on by our increasingly unhealthy living environments and lifestyles.