By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
Just because a county is populated by less than 20,000 people doesn't mean an urban community is out of the question. That's the thinking behind a proposed urban oasis in rural Maine.
Just because a county is populated by less than 20,000 people doesn't mean an urban community is out of the question.
At least that's the thinking behind Tracy Gayton's urban experiment in rural Maine.
On The Atlantic Cities, Sarah Goodyear explores the intriguing Piscataquis Village Project, a proposed village with a distinctly European feel that, if completed, would make for an urban oasis in rural Maine.
Here's how Gayton imagines the 500 total acres that the project would take up, on the project's Facebook page:
Development of the site would be guided by a set of zoning and building covenants specifically composed to create a space, as it is built out, to resemble traditional villages of Europe and early North America, in which foot or bicycle was the primary or sole method of transportation. This site would be declared a car-free zone. Motor vehicles would be parked at the perimeter of the development in a green belt of at least 375 acres, which would also be acquired as part of this project. The green belt, other than the area designated for vehicle parking, would also be a zone for allotment gardens, small scale agriculture, playing fields, outdoor recreation and park-like green space.
Gayton's project is in its beginning stages, Goodyear reports:
Gayton is looking to get interested investors to pledge $2 million to get the project off the ground, in increments as small as $10,000. That amount will get you a building lot, some space in the project’s "agricultural zone," and a parking spot at the perimeter.
But while the project has yet to find a location, 24 families have already committed $290,000 toward the project. If you think the project will go nowhere, Gayton has this to say:
“Anyone who thinks I’m a utopian should get out more. This is the way we’ve been building cities for the last 6,000 years, until the last 100 years.”
You can learn more about the project here.
Can One of Maine's Emptiest Counties Become an Urbanist Paradise? [The Atlantic Cities]
Photo: Werner Kunz/Flickr
Feb 8, 2012
While I applaud the thought (village life).. I don't see this plan as being viable, even with just "retirees" ( what ? Maine's equivalent to Del Web's "Sun City"?) A healthy community, with a model worth copying, should include a much larger cross section of society at large. And without the mentioned "reason" to exist at a given location - it will likely become another Acrosanti (http://www.arcosanti.org/)... nice in theory, but not getting much "traction" in the real world.
Sooo, what do they do for snow removal? What do they do for large deliveries? Does the "village" even have an economic purpose or is it plunked out in the middle of nowhere with no other purpose than to look european?
Although I understand the analysis of ways of living and the ideals that I imagine underpin this project - which has obvious roots in the work of Christopher Alexander, Leon Krier and the successful populariser, Andreas Duany, this place will either fail, or, if it succeeds, do so as an enclave for moneyed liberals. See Seaside. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaside,_Florida
Maine has been trying for several years to become the summer home for snowbirds who live in Florida all winter. They have been trying to draw retirees from other New England states who want to live affordably while staying close to family. They are not trying to draw people and businesses to Maine. Businesses require lots of infrastructure to create jobs. Retirees do not need jobs to live some where, but they do spend money and help create service industry jobs. Which are better than no jobs for the year round residents.
Cities, Towns, and villages don't spring up for no reason. Just because it's nice and so forth, isn't a reason for people to congregate there. A town with no reason for existence becomes a ghost town. Most urban centres occur at transportation hubs. Ports are a good example. London and Liverpool have been port cities for millennia, going through decline and renewal but never disappearing because they are ports. Rail stations in North America were also a reason for a town or a village, a place where the railway system met the local road system. But as rail lines have closed down and the tracks pulled up, those towns and villages have become less important and are slowly disappearing. (I live near such a village.) Industry also gives a raison d'etre for urbanization. A mine needs people to work there, and so a village springs up. But when the mine closes, the village eventually disappears. So while I applaud this project, what I want to know is what is going to bring people to this place.