On April 29, Friends of the Rail Park’s Leah Murphy participated in a panel discussion alongside Paul Levy of Philadelphia’s Center City District and representatives Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail, New York’s High Line, and the St. Louis Trestle. Panelists were challenged to answer the question posed by Next City: How do we adapt the aging infrastructure of our industrial past to create parks for future?
Presentations by each of the panelists touched on the physical characteristics and condition of each site; conceptual and/or completed designs; stakeholders and actors; public awareness and engagement; and funding efforts and sources. With candor and humor, each panelist shared challenges faced and successes won.
The discussion, moderated by The Trust for Public Land’s Chicago Region Director, Beth White, delved into the question of How. From Next City’s post, published on May 8th:
Panelists discussed the importance of leadership and the role of elected officials in realizing these projects (Mayor Emanuel pledged completion of The Bloomingdale Trail within his first term); compared notes on negotiating conflicting interests and aspirations; and touched on the challenge of designing a public space that simultaneously serves the local community, attracts tourists, and inspires funders. Though the local context makes for distinct differences, there are common factors integral to the success of “tracks to parks” projects across the country — a commitment to collaboration and public engagement at the top of the list — and similar hurdles and road blocks.
How? Invariably, the question comes up. It seems, for the most part and much to the credit of the High Line, we’ve moved beyond the Why to How, an important and motivating shift. How are interests aligned behind an idea, and how are forces marshaled to implement and sustain projects of this scale and nature? Friends of the Rail Park looks forward to learning more from our friends in Chicago, New York, St. Louis and beyond…
Check out photos and live-tweets from the event at NextCity.org.
Want more details? The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University captured the evening on film. You can watch the entire talk here.