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Thread: Preserving open or assembly space in the town center

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Preserving open or assembly space in the town center

    I have not visited here in some time and speak as a civilian.

    And while I see the trends of "commodifying public space" as David Harvey calls it in his book about the 'right to the city' I do not know if such build ups of architectural garbage such as this:

    http://www.appleton.org/departments/...t=5779708f00c1

    is an anachronism, just bad taste compounded by bad judgment, or moronic.

    The project as proposed (which I can only criticize in places like letters to the editor of the paper) wishes to name an open space in the center of the town for a long dead celebrity of magic, Harry Houdini, who ran away from this city, Appleton Wisconsin, when he was twelve years old. Nor was he born here as local historians have recently pointed out.

    The project is an outrage but I'm in here to get an opinion from a professional point of view.

    PM's ok as well
    Last edited by loninappleton; 17 Jun 2012 at 12:08 PM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    The project as proposed (which I can only criticize in places like letters to the editor of the paper) wishes to name an open space in the center of the town for a long dead celebrity of magic, Harry Houdini, who ran away from this city, Appleton Wisconsin, when he was twelve years old. Nor was he born here as local historians have recently pointed out.

    The project is an outrage but I'm in here to get an opinion from a professional point of view.

    PM's ok as well
    I don't know how being sad about a name makes the design bad, but being sad and wishing that sadness equates to the design being an outrage is a bit of a stretch. Maybe less overwrought umbrage and more concrete alternatives might work in your quest for whatever the goal is.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Here is a link to the design plan: http://www.appleton.org/i/d/communit...ry%20Final.pdf

    Just to clear up a few things, the name is not new. The current plaza has been in existence for decades and has been called Houdini Plaza. It is also in need of redevelopment. That was an important recommendation of the City's downtown plan.

    I am not sure if the project design is as functional as it might be. It seems chopped up. I did not spend much time looking it over, though, and I do not have all of the information about activities that might be conducted there besides concerts and the farmer's market.

    I am disappointed that there was not some discussion of Soldier's Square, an under-thought alley/plaza extending further east from the site. Soldier's Square has enourmous potential to become a special place. Opening up the backs of buildings on College Avenue and redeveloping the parking ramp with a commercial wrap could create a vibrant pedestrian zone. As it is tied to Houdini Plaza, it would have been nice to have seen at least a "bubble level" of thought given to physical and design connectivity.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Just to amplify my concern since you seem to think its frivolous, this is not the first time I've stepped forward to confront Houdini Plaza or the Plan itself.

    Whether one likes the buildup's aesthetics avoids the question of whether there should be any build up at all.

    My question to the professional body is: do you ever take care to preserve open space for public assembly? And do you not see it as your responsibility to do so?

    Gossip (unconfirmed fact) that I hear is that more of this sort of commodification of public space is going on to limit dissent. It is in response to things like Occupy and here in Wisconsin to the Madison uprising.

    Plaza and park are two different things. The original plaza showed a sculpture of questionable skill off the view of the main street. Extending this 'plaza' into a square designated as a park to the street front and of the design shown creates barriers to the right of assembly.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Iím still a little unclear as to the concern here since I am not familiar with the space. Is it that you feel the proposed design eliminates or otherwise stymies the potential for public gathering? Does it serve that function well now? Or is it that a previous design proposal would have provided greater potential for gathering? Just trying to understand the context here. Its difficult to see from the current images of the place, but it does seem like the public space is spread across a corner due to the orientation of the museum which presents some design challenges. What I do see, though, is that the proposed design is still mostly one contiguous level field (albeit with different surfaces) and, so long as long sight lines are maintained, would still be conducive to larger collective gatherings. One of the powers of public gathering (for protest or other activity) is that it transforms public areas from their every day configuration to something different. Also, since one of the stated objectives of the new design is to ďaccommodate important community eventsĒ I would imagine that could apply to protests as much as concerts. Same design issues apply Ė sight lines, continuous surfacing, etc.

    Certainly many have identified the pacifying effect the elimination of plazas and squares can have on public gathering and expressions of dissent. Some have categorized the lowered density and lack of identifiable centers in suburbia as a prime example. Iím a little on the fence in particular circumstances as to whether this was a deliberate design objective or an unanticipated (but perhaps beneficial to the powers that be) consequence. From my reading of the proposed plan here, I donít see that public gathering potential is all that compromised (though maybe not as easy or effective as it could be). In my fair city, almost all city-wide protests begin or take place at the university where there is a similarly chopped up and un-civic-plaza-like space. But the protesters (and indeed this was the site of or local OWS activities) have been very successful at commodifying the space for their purposes.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    due to the orientation of the museum which presents some design challenges. What I do see, though, is that the proposed design is still mostly one contiguous level field (albeit with different surfaces) and, so long as long sight lines are maintained, would still be conducive to larger collective gatherings. One of the powers of public gathering (for protest or other activity) is that it transforms public areas from their every day configuration to something different. Also, since one of the stated objectives of the new design is to ďaccommodate important community eventsĒ I would imagine that could apply to protests as much as concerts. Same design issues apply Ė sight lines, continuous surfacing, etc...., I donít see that public gathering potential is all that compromised (though maybe not as easy or effective as it could be). In my fair city, almost all city-wide protests begin or take place at the university where there is a similarly chopped up and un-civic-plaza-like space. But the protesters (and indeed this was the site of or local OWS activities) have been very successful at commodifying the space for their purposes.
    I don't really see what the issue is or how the (not that great) design stymies civic gatherings to protest creeping plutocracy. I suspect the design may be looked back upon as unfortunate sometime in the hazy future, but there are trees to intercept tear gas and nets, so the greenery confers some advantage to future protests.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Just to continue the discussion a bit:

    There are other issues concerning this space. Somehow the scant association of the magician Houdini with Appleton who was not born here, his family was ejected from the community because dad did not perform religious ceremonies at temple (Rabi Weiss apparently preferred German) in the desired fashion and Ehrich Weiss ran away at age 12. The historic sequence of all these events is still a matter of conjecture.

    There is no reason for all this Houdini beatification in the first place. It should be eliminated as a cultural reference of any import. Consider this: Appleton has the distinction of having the first house with electric lights in 1889. It was referred to in a recent Financial Times which should put Appleton on the map for that rather than a slight of hand artist. Am I making my larger point here? The whole agenda is ill conceived. It's a theme park, not a public space.

    Here is a recent letter printed in the local paper which has been emailed and a print copy given to the Common Council which will be voting on the issue today:

    http://www.postcrescent.com/article/...87&located=rss

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Also had to respond to that great phrase "creeping plutocracy."

    That fact is that this is the last space that creeping plutocracy has not managed to capture yet is the reason the build up should not go forward.

    Look at that garish tower for instance. It's just waiting for the installation of all manner of signage and promotion. And being at the town, center having been provided by donations of so-called stake holders, would become a source of monopoly rents.

  9. #9
    Dear ioninapleton

    Alow me to explain some of the hostility that has colored some of the responses to your post

    Most important, many of the issues you raise are beyond the jurrisdiction/responsibility of planners. In virtually every US city/town, the legal responsibility for ALL planning decisions is ultimately given to the city, which then transfers the day to day administration to the planning department. The planners can mahpkevrecoomendations, but no one has to listen to them. In most places, it is the city council or equivalent body that has the real power and these people can override the planning department. They do this all the time. So city planners get upset when someone asks, why did the planners do x?

    Similarly, it's not the planners who name plazas or even decide funding mechanisms for public spaces. typically, these are political decisions and need to be taken to the council. Planners can advise, or implement policiies, but they do not make the sort of decisions you brought up in your post.

    Also, one thing that governments ask planning departments to assist with is how to accomodate conflicting and multiple uses. Almost everyone of this website will tell you that every city and town needs a public gathering space for concerts, celebrations and protests. However, these spaces usually must be programmed for multiple uses, people selling hemp products and used books, walks for charities, places for the elderly to sit. making all these uses fit in one space isn't easy.

    That said, here are some suggestions that might help you. First, ask for the propsed programming guidelines for the plaza. These might be in a request for proposals that went out to the landscape architect who designed the plaza or may be in another official document. This is something your city planning department can help with. These will tell you if the intent was to accomodate large public gatherings (watch for what isn't in the proposed programming!)

    Second, ask for the funding plan, both for the capital improvements and the maintenance plan. This may be in the mayors office, budget department or some other place.

    Finally, the solution to the concern about the name of the plaza cannot be found here. It is a political problem. If you don't like the name, organize your fellow voters in your city (kids are great organizers too,, but politicians tend to listen more to actual voters-but then, I am cybupical ). That is the only way to address the name problem.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I have a limited voice at city council gatherings but I'm working on it. My forum is the newspaper.

    Planning and community development may not be the same thing. But neither planners nor community promoters should EVER get the idea that they are tourists in their own town. All of the community slogans regarding "bring the magic" and having things named after a magician will get tired very quickly. Then the transient professionals will move on to do more harm with the same facile tools and naming devices that they brought here.

    The point is that those who live here are going to have to look at this crap for a long long time. Voting the council out of office will be too late.

    Lon in Appleton

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I really fail to see your concern. Although the space will change, it is still going to be an open plaza where people can congregate. There are going to be more features. An entrance sign. A stage. More seating. So what? The space is still there, it is still maintained by the city for public use, and itmay look better than it does today. It is (and has been for decades) named for a person who resided in the city for a time, but was not born there and left. Again, so what? How many places stake their claim to fame on the fact that it was George Washington's headquarters during the _____ campaign, or the like? This is not being done for Houdini or for the people who donated to make it happen. It is being done for the benefit of the public, to make the downtown a more attractive, functional, and vibrant place.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Just got back from the council meeting.

    The 'so what'? shrug of the shoulders about citizen's rights to the city were there is spades. The subject of the function of public space never came up. It was about who would pay what and when.

    If no further discussion of the meaning of public space is forthcoming: that space which the flag day parade passes by with apparently another shrug of the shoulders and so what, then my business here is concluded.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    The point is that those who live here are going to have to look at this crap for a long long time. Voting the council out of office will be too late.
    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    Just got back from the council meeting.
    The 'so what'? shrug of the shoulders about citizen's rights to the city were there is spades. The subject of the function of public space never came up. It was about who would pay what and when.
    What is done can easily be undone, just takes commitment. Sounds like the council is reflecting the will of the people, the council doesn't care because the people don't care. If a majority of people got interested and committed enough, the plan would change in an instant. Same as any parcel of land that is "lost to future use thanks to Walmart or other undesirable use", give them incentive and they will have bulldozers out there tomorrow.

    Every city is just a complaint-minimizing organism. They're probably getting complaints about the square being old and empty[1], so they respond to the stimuli. No one is apparently complaining about the lack of public open space.

    [1] or just don't want to be accused of not doing anything interesting

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    Just got back from the council meeting...The 'so what'? shrug of the shoulders about citizen's rights to the city were there is spades.
    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    planners nor community promoters should EVER get the idea that they are tourists in their own town. ...The point is that those who live here are going to have to look at this crap for a long long time. Voting the council out of office will be too late.
    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    yet is the reason the build up should not go forward...Look at that garish tower for instance.
    Just because the design doesn't appeal to your personal opinion of tasteful space doesn't mean the planners don't care, the public is somnambulent, the city council is corrupt, the state is in decline, our country is falling apart, corporations are using mind control to implement designs they want, and the world will explode if it gets built.

    That is: you don't like the design. Others do. That's how we roll.

    Jus' sayin'.
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    I will keep at it. What I was looking for here is that there is some commitment by planners to protect the rights of the minority regarding freedom to assemble. It doesn't matter if that space appeals to tourists or not it is a requirement of the public-- just to know that it's there, not a place for the rolling cappacino wagon or whatever they have up their sleeves to make money off of it. This is the last space. There aren't any more at the center of town. Also the point was made that this is designated a public park.

    And rather than creeping plutocracy mentioned above of which there are more than enough creeps already, the phrase back door plutocracy in the form of donations-- not unlike the system in the rest of politics via lobbyists and whatnot-- appeals to me more.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    I will keep at it. What I was looking for here is that there is some commitment by planners to protect the rights of the minority regarding freedom to assemble. It doesn't matter if that space appeals to tourists or not it is a requirement of the public-- just to know that it's there, not a place for the rolling cappacino wagon or whatever they have up their sleeves to make money off of it. This is the last space. There aren't any more at the center of town. Also the point was made that this is designated a public park.

    And rather than creeping plutocracy mentioned above of which there are more than enough creeps already, the phrase back door plutocracy in the form of donations-- not unlike the system in the rest of politics via lobbyists and whatnot-- appeals to me more.
    It doesn't seem to me, from the information provided, that the proposed redesign renders this space unable to support protest or assembly. Am I missing something? And I don't think the City is making considerable money off the cappacino wagon other than from the permit fees. Its the small vendor coffee seller that is making a buck. And in this economy, I actually applaud cities creating opportunities for low-overhead entries into the market. This is room for an entrepreneur to create work. Would you say the same of a balloon artist or busker? Are they also instruments of the government machine scheming to make money off the place? Public space is public, which means many people have interests in access to and use of the space. Unfortunately, that does create potential conflict.

    It may be useful to look into the history of plazas and squares. From their inception, these spaces have been a central aspect of the marketplace. For many places they were and still ARE the marketplace (in the sense that this was where farmers and other vendors brought/bring their goods for sale). But surrounding them was almost always some combination of government functions, possibly religious institutions, and commerce. The square/plaza/etc. is a site of economic exchange in the full diversity of what that implies (from meeting people and exchanging in the marketplace of ideas to buying and selling goods). This makes it also an excellent space to gather in protest (especially directly to local government that was historically also located there) because there is a built in crowd to engage and address. In this sense, I donít see that a commercial presence or role in public space is all that odd, though cooption of that space and controlled access would be problematic.

    But public squares do not exist waiting only for a protest to occur. They are active, dynamic spaces that are transformed from their everyday functions when big social events occur, be it celebrations or protests. Personally, I donít see that the proposed design prevents this from happening. And I think that the more such a space is activated by a diversity of uses, the more powerful this kind of transformation can be. Turning a bustling public space into a site of protest is a lot more powerful than occupying an otherwise vacant park. IMHO.

    All that being said, public squares/plazas/piazzas/etc. have always been very potent sites of political and social contestation and this example is no exception. Still, I personally think there are larger battles you could be fighting. If the city were seeking to prevent potential protesters access to the space or if it were controlled by private interests that prevented such activities, I might be more concerned. But as it stands, I donít see how the design infringes on peoplesí right or ability to coopt the space for protest or demonstrations. If it can also be more active for more uses more of the time, it seems to me that this is public space serving a variety of public needs.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    @wahday


    Yours is a well thought out reply and leaves things to consider.

    In the instance at hand and for reasons given in the letter to the paper (see above) it described the situation of what I consider a tacky naming device once limited to a smaller area: that of the association of Ehrich Weiss (aka Harry Houdini) who has scant association with the city. It's supposed to tie in with some slogan such as bring the magic to the downtown. Its express purpose in the words of the council members is to make the downtown friendly to the tourist business ("the hospitality business") in particular.

    And there is a long cold period here where nothing would go on in it anyway. This capturing for monopoly advertising and business interests will express itself on whatever that monstrosity of a tower is lit up with. I have no doubt that it will be flashing on and off with something or other incessantly. And if you haven't noticed the kitchen sink approach in this cramped space yet, please do so.

    Appleton is known for The Hearthstone: a historical site of the first electrical lights in a residence supplied from the Fox River beneath. Calling the center of town Houdini anything is in bad taste and will make a laughing stock of the community if allowed to go forward. Eliminate the crap and identify it as Appleton, not Houdinitown. I have no doubt that a more effective city image could be made in the era of renewed interest in hydroelectric power and have written publicly about it. But this conflicts with the gentrified tweaks and Disneyfication evident in the plan and on the minds of the coprorate minions on the council.

    For this to go forward, the mayor had to break a tie vote last night.

    Thanks for taking an interest in my topic..

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    As others have stated, I don't see how this project stifles the public's ability to assemble. My question is about the cost. It's less than an acre of park space, but it's going to cost $1.48M? You should be happy they're soliciting donations instead of using public funds.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    My position is that donations will invariably come with strings attached. Also the proposed improvements are boldly stated not to be for residents but for the hospitality industry. There are of course deals in the background to get this ramped up that I know nothing about.

    But surely you see that donations for something like this in all it's garishness wouldn't be done for charitable reasons only.

    Yes this space may be cleaned up by a design group. But all the Houdini business is in bad taste. I'm sure you've noticed the cement crypt with blue glass attached to the side to simulate a Houdini water torture-- erm -- escape trick.

    And from the history of why not to do this, a local publication from the tourist bureau itself states that Ehrich Weiss ran away from here when he was twelve. The joke that follows of course is that Houdini's first escape was from Appleton.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Just a couple of thoughts in no particular order after reading through this thread:

    -- I agree with others here that a well-used space is "better" for public protest rather than a space that is open but never used. In my fair city we have a large square in front of City Hall. It's large, featureless, and not connected to the city around it. 99% of the time it doesn't get used for anything (for the longest time Councillors parked their cars on it). When Occupy set up there they (and their message) were pretty much ignored. It wasn't until City Hall wanted to use the square for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony in November that people actually paid attention to the fact that Occupy was camped out in the public square.

    -- The Houdini thing does indeed seem cheesy to me. I do think governments need to get it through their mind that building for tourists is a failing proposition (unless you go all out, like Disney). There are far too many small towns hoping that if only they spend a few million bucks on a glitzy "tourist attraction" that a new tourist industry will fall out of the sky and save them from decline. Good luck with that. Every other small town around you is trying to do the exact same crappy thing. But the best small towns (and any destination for that matter) are authentic. I wholeheartedly believe that authenticity comes from creating a nice place to live for residents. That doesn't mean there aren't situations where money should be spent specifically on tourism, but there's a big difference between spending money on functional directional signage and spending it on turning your town into a crappy theme park.

    -- It seems to me that your problem isn't really with the design of the park itself (save for the naming on the sign), but with the reasons/methods behind it. Fair enough. We got a new outdoor skating rink here on land that was intended to be a public common in perpetuity. Part of paying for the rink was opening up for donations, and now there's a Molson Plaza to go along with it. The rink's been great for my city, but I think we sold our soul by allowing naming on the purest of public spaces (the Common). I honestly think it would have been good use of public funds to pay for the rink in full.

    -- In my experience, just complaining about something doesn't get much done. Perhaps you could organize an alternative to selling out corporate naming rights. Let people pay $50 to have their name on a brick in the path, or something like that. Give people their park, but take on the points you really don't agree with (corporate naming, maybe the naming of the park itself). Compromise.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Compromise with an uncompromising administration.

    You are right and my stance is that this should remain city owned. The downtown is not dilapidated: There are farmer's markets both in season and in the downtown mall space (built in the early 80's I think)
    which is also the location of city hall in an adaptive reuse of space in a department store. Many things are being done right here. There's an urban garden project of large scale in the space of a golf course.

    But this Houdini thing is just wrong. I would allow as compromise the stated place name of Appleton Commons, landscaping and minimal buildup. The open space currently supports vendors for the farmers market in season and a downtown music night in the summer. No towers, fountains or glass covered coffins will make that any better.

    Without getting into the details of how the design group was selected and made a sole source provider, the compromise is let them do the minimum based on their pre-planning for infrastructure but no more-- donations or not. The real concern is as you mention having Miller beer (or Molson) on everything in our case based on a well- attended Octoberfest. I view the association with a brewing company like Miller as having sold the Octoberfest to the beer maker who in turn sells it back to the town.

    You also the mention the me-too style of aping what is done elsewhere to have a "draw." That was my argument(s) against a convention center which ran for a year in the newspaper. Other nearby cities already have that based on known draws of scenic benefit and concert stages and events.
    The one has the Green Bay (as in Green Bay Packers) and the other has Lake Winnebego with several music fests already up and going.
    Last edited by loninappleton; 25 Jun 2012 at 6:56 PM.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by loninappleton View post
    Compromise with an uncompromising administration.

    You are right and my stance is that this should remain city owned. The downtown is not dilapidated: There are farmer's markets both in season and in the downtown mall space (built in the early 80's I think)
    which is also the location of city hall in an adaptive reuse of space in a department store. Many things are being done right here. There's an urban garden project of large scale in the space of a golf course.

    But this Houdini thing is just wrong. I would allow as compromise the stated place name of Appleton Commons, landscaping and minimal buildup. The open space currently supports vendors for the farmers market in season and a downtown music night in the summer. No towers, fountains or glass covered coffins will make that any better.

    Without getting into the details of how the design group was selected and made a sole source provider, the compromise is let them do the minimum based on their pre-planning for infrastructure but no more-- donations or not. The real concern is as you mention having Miller beer (or Molson) on everything in our case based on a well- attended Octoberfest. I view the association with a brewing company like Miller as having sold the Octoberfest to the beer maker who in turn sells it back to the town.

    You also the mention the me-too style of aping what is done elsewhere to have a "draw." That was my argument(s) against a convention center which ran for a year in the newspaper. Other nearby cities already have that based on known draws of scenic benefit and concert stages and events.
    The one has the Green Bay (as in Green Bay Packers) and the other has Lake Winnebego with several music fests already up and going.
    I'm curious to know how the rest of the public feels about this. You seem really caught up in the naming of the plaza. Do you hate magic?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian
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    What are you fishing for? An opinion on magic. To say that it is piffle pretty much sums it up. To have a monument built to someone who did no magic in point of fact here in the first place makes it simply an advertising gimmick for a town slogan. I do not know enough about this "bring the magic" trope but the way it is usually done is to pay an advertising firm big dollars for a phrase nobody likes such as "Wisconsin, live like you mean it." Someone at the state tourist bureau paid for that one.


    It is more like an attempt at cheap branding .

    And once again, the city populace has not weighed in on this at all. I began talking about the right to the city and we have gotten away from that. The lack of participation in this is precisely the feeling that people have no right to the city at all: It's here for tourists to walk through and for the hospitality industry to make money off of. In essence, like the convention center proposal (now in limbo due to a foreclosure on the hotel itself) these build outs are not for the people at all. But anyone who thinks that this is a draw for anything, a magnet location of any significance, is nuts.

    It is apparently part of the Big Plan for Appleton's future based on consultants from Milwaukee's idea of what will "work" here. Magic is not it.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    To be fair, this site is not envisioned as a tourist draw in the sense that visitors from all over will flock to it as they might to Central Park. It is expected to continue to fill its present role as a location for activities of regional importance. But for that purpose it does seem to be over-designed. Discussion concerning the plaza has been going on for several years and there has been a good deal of input from the public, a majority of which is supportive. Perhaps if anything, there is a concern over the cost, which is why the private contributions are necessary. These contributions are from local people and businesses, and the recognition they will receive is not a big "Miller" sign hanging over the park, but more along the line of name on a commemorative plaque.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2009
    Location
    Appleton, WI
    Posts
    30
    @Cardinal,


    To be fair it has to be acknowledged that the major contribution of $100,000 is supposed to come from our Octoberfest. Many businesses are involved in this event but the big one is Miller beer. My conclusion is that Miller and others would have a big say in the scope of the project.

    This forum topic is concerned with the use of public space. Can you say how in other instances those so-called stake holders who get a piece of a public project limit in word or law the usage of a pulbic space?

    I use the example, in this Disneyfication of a public park, as being similar to Main Street USA-- at Disneyland. There are no peace rallies at Main Street USA in Disneyland-- or at the Fox River Mall for that matter either. Those are private spaces. Zuccotti Park is another example. If a public space is actually _used_ for assembly, that is when the veneer of public park wears off and the actual face of Main Street USA kicks in whether it be at Wall Street or Oakland.

    For this reason it is my stance that it is inappropriate for a Community Development co-ordinator to solicit any donations from private business whatsoever. I think it should be illegal and outside the scope of a city employee's duties. These ginned up over-designed projects which are in questionable taste get started where the public is not involved in any significant way. Example, the current kitchen sink gaggle of design elements was what is shown to the public. Supposedly there were 7 other designs but from the same sole source outfit from Illinois from which it was selected. Who saw these? Hotel managers? Bar owners? Maybe a group of old women from the Troute Museum? I don't know the answer to any of these things.

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