Meet&Share at 289 Derby

all photos by John Andrews, Creative Salem

This is part 2 of 5 posts documenting the Community Engagement Process for a new public space at 289 Derby. The City of Salem, Salem Public Space Project and Creative Salem welcome the community to participate in an exciting and innovative approach to placemaking. After a public process, CBA Landscape Architects of Cambridge became the primary designers with Salem Public Space Project and Creative Salem working as local leaders tasked with managing the community engagement / schematic design for the parcel.

On May 31, dozens of people representing 22 local organizations gathered at 289 Derby for a deeper discussion for what this new waterfront public space should be. We sat and stood around a very large table and discussed the priorities of each person through the lens of their organization, or group they felt they represented, such as neighborhood associations, young families, or the nearby Derby Lofts.

This was our second Community Design Meeting, and like with the first, we mainly listened. A lot was said! The collective priorities and values were pretty clear, and align well with what we heard in week 1:

  1. Accessible to all people, abilities, ages, ethnicities
  2. Multi-use / multi-programming / community gathering for all seasons
  3. Green Space
  4. Connections to water and Peabody St Park / The Point
  5. Safe
  6. Maintainable

After Dance&Design at 289 Derby, the favorite idea was a “botanical garden with open space for education, music, and dance.” Ultimately, this statement, which received a majority votes in our Week 1 online and on-site surveys, speaks primarily to the desire for an engaging green space integrated with space for programmed, communal gathering.

The need for this 1 acre spot of land to serve many needs, and still function as a beautiful space with a clear identity continued during our second Community Design Event: Meet&Share.

A lot of the comments and desires were ultimately for spaces and elements that have multiple uses and appeal to multiple people of all ages, ethnicities, and abilities.

For instance, some participants did not want another playground. However, many supported integrating an engaging sculpture that could be climbed by kids as well as start conversations with adults as a desirable design solution to multiple competing interests.

Point Neighborhood Association: a place for community meetings and bridging across the water!

Connect

Many expressed desires to connect – by continuing the Harborwalk around the South River, by connecting across the river to Peabody Street Park, and The Point neighborhood, by opening up access to the water, and by designing elements to facilitate social interactions.

Salem Historical Society: make it beautiful with a covered eating area and a micro – forest!

Derby Lofts: Green Space + Bridge over the Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gather in the Green

We became more specific about what sort of green space and what types of gatherings could happen at 289 Derby.

Participants expressed a desire for resilient and sustainable vegetation that could even involve permaculture including passive food producing plants. We discussed maintenance and somehow getting local support to steward the space. Perhaps this could double with a vertical garden for pollinators, or a green buffer to mitigate the gasoline smell on the west side of the lot, or to buffer against the noise from Derby Street on the north. In fact, the green buffer could perhaps help dampen the noise on site too since people want a space for quiet contemplation.

Many were drawn to the image of a labyrinth that integrates paving with greenery. In fact, this image represents the desire of many to integrate nature with community gathering: “Plants mixed in with sculptural elements” and “Greenspace interspersed with gathering space.” The circular flat space of a labyrinth could help facilitate different activities: a place for quiet walking meditation, a focal point for an amphitheater for theatre or music, a space to lead a yoga class, and a small ice-skating rink in the winter.

Gathering in a beautiful space with green on one side and the water on the other is how many participants want to exercise, especially important for people of all ages.

Derby Lofts: Make it Green! Well lit, safe and pretty and quiet! – an Urbane Oasis!

Young families: gather + eat, gather +watch, perform or teach, traverse!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gather on the Blue

Most participants expressed a desire to connect to the water, through an actual kayak and paddleboard launch, or by having a beautiful fence from which to lean and peer out.

 

SAFE (salem alliance for the environment): green space, botanical garden, access to water, performance space

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs: eco-friendly, low-impact on environment – vertical gardens! mural on National Grid building!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Place for Games, Performance, and Learning

Most participants also want a space for backyard type games, outdoor spaces for learning and gathering, and performances that aren’t too loud. The noise factor was one area of disagreement. Many expressed a desire for seeing music and performances with the water as backdrop, while others are concerned with the noise.

 

Integrate nature with seating, art, and events for all!

A Place for Contemplation, Art, and Conversation

Many participants expressed a desire for an urban oasis of green where they can rejuvenate since Derby Street lacks green up to the Maritime Center. People would like to contemplate nature, perhaps understand native plants or how a rain garden works. Many suggested using art as a way to start conversations. One participant thought having permanent questions could stimulate discussions – indeed the simple chalkboard wall on site has done just that for a couple weeks!

Some participants reached across the river and suggested that art can improve the look of the National Grid station by weaving through the fence, or painting a mural, or using artful light.

 

Salem Main Streets: spaces that endure through the seasons

Amenities

Thoughtful and creative lighting was a big item! As was having a water-bottle filling station and other amenities such as an on-site calendar of events and a solar-powered phone charging station.

Overall, the desire for some kind of green integrated with many types of gathering spaces and activities predominates.

For our 3rd event – Play&Plan we will show three design options derived from what has been learned so far from our first two meetings, our chalkboard wall, and online surveys – Join us at 289 Derby from 5-8pm on June 7 for Yoga, play with B&S Fitness and Project Adventure, music play with Barbara Maitland! All are welcome!

 

Extended – Call for Writers

Salem Public Space Cards: an artful gaze onto our shared public spaces.

Over a dozen local photographers have chosen and photographed a public space meaningful to them. What will their image inspire you to write about a place that you know or discover in your own way?

Cards will feature a public space photo and a poem/ written reflection inspired by the photo on the other. To be launched and for sale at the Salem Arts Festival, 2017. The Public Space Cards will be packaged with a map of all locations. All proceeds will go towards recovering production cost and then divided equally among participants. (Cost TBD)

A Lot of Suggestions

ReImagine The Panels for spspThe results are in, and the top suggestions are:

Community Garden 11 votes
Community Center 10 votes
Community Movie Theatre 8 votes
Music Center for Children 4 votes
Fun 4 votes
Skate Park 4 votes
Teen / Youth Center 4 votes

Most of the suggestions were unique, but generally related, so we tried out some categories to see if some of the desires can be combined, or could complement each other. There is space for imagination even on such a small lot!

A Lot of Suggestions.ai

Practically all of the suggestion spaces were filled with the practical, whimsical, provocative, and everything in between. What is your favorite suggestion of what this small lot in the heart of the densely populated Point neighborhood could be? What is missing? View suggestions more closely in the photos below and here with:  A Lot of Suggestions diagrammed.

suggestions 01 suggestions 02 suggestions 03 suggestions 04 suggestions 05

 

ReImagine A Lot! Week 8

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The BBQ preparations are in full swing. Later, helpers each receive a pumpkin candy bucket. I Imagine info poster_Week 08_Page_2

Neighborhood kids pin where their favorite place in the Point is – many choose their houses, which is rather endearing. The adults mostly choose parks. I Imagine info poster_Week 08_Page_3

Thanks to the PEM for sponsoring! Claudia Chuber came to invite everyone to the museum as it is free for all Salem residents.I Imagine info poster_Week 08_Page_6

Thanks to The Dejas for the music!I Imagine info poster_Week 08_Page_4

I Imagine info poster_Week 08_Page_7Thanks to Keith, Jeff, and the On Point Program for some great grilling!

I Imagine info poster_Week 08_Page_5And thanks to the Point Neighborhood for participating to ReImagine Palmer Street Lot!

ReImagine A Lot! Week 7

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This was the first day that all work was completed at the lot. Almost all of the suggestion lines have been filled over the past few weeks. And so, the kids played and painted the mural with images based on the community suggestions of what the lot could be. Pamela Joye joined us and photographed the afternoon’s events. The photos here are from the following Saturday morning and show the finished space ready for the final community BBQ. 

I Imagine info poster_Week 07_Page_4

Choose a colored trunk to sit and choose your favorite suggestion of what this lot could be.I Imagine info poster_Week 07_Page_3I Imagine info poster_Week 07_Page_2

I Imagine info poster_Week 07_Page_6

While the Salem Public Space Project brought the white plastic chairs to add to the available seating, the wooden chair was brought by an unknown community member. While not a written suggestion of what the lot could be, it clearly communicates what is needed. Thank you, anonymous chair donor, for helping furnish that need!I Imagine info poster_Week 07_Page_5Whether a garden, movie theater, or community center, I like the suggestion that the lot will be fun!

ReImagine A Lot! Week 6

I Imagine info poster_Week 06_Page_1Imagination at the lot was in full swing on Friday. The Bulletin Board is complete and has some good recycling information brought over by four members of the Recycling Committee. A neighbor who has watched the progress on the lot unfold in the past several weeks brought over a gift as well – a lovely painting he made of bright trees featured on the bulletin board. Below, he writes in his suggestion of what this lot could be: “A Gallery of Art.”

I Imagine info poster_Week 06_Page_3I Imagine info poster_Week 06_Page_2 I Imagine info poster_Week 06_Page_4 I Imagine info poster_Week 06_Page_5I Imagine info poster_Week 06_Page_7

The suggestion board has gathered some repeat ideas: a garden, a (much needed) public restroom, a store. The back of the board has a united message painted by over a dozen point children. It reads: “We Love our Point Community.”I Imagine info poster_Week 06_Page_6

ReImagine A Lot! Week 5

I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_1

The front of the Community Suggestion Wall is almost complete and asks residents to imagine what this lot could be. The final, essential touch, will be the chalk that will be placed on site as soon as this fall rain passes. The head of the wall will serve as a Community Bulletin board with the bold artwork of the neighborhood helpers.I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_2

The back of the wall currently serves for a canvas of unlimited possibilities – join us next week as the mural really begins to take shape.I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_3

The eight foot long stencils were not easy to work with, but the kids managed quite well. I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_4 I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_5 I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_6