The Role of Urban Open Spaces
While the Bridge Street District Vision calls for urban development densities, exceptional green spaces will still be a principal element of the District. A critical role of open space is the availability of access to fresh air and natural settings that contribute to overall quality of life. In fact, enhanced access and visibility make the Scioto River and the North and South Forks of the Indian Run centerpieces of the Bridge Street District Plan.
Residents of urban neighborhoods typically expect to have, and often choose, much smaller private outdoor spaces. In part this is a result of the desire for lower-maintenance, but to a larger degree is driven by the desire for common social spaces, such as pocket parks. Urban open spaces fulfill the critical function of providing outdoor living spaces for exercise, strolling, relaxation, and gathering. This diversity of purposes requires a wider variety of open space settings to add visual interest and vitality to the urban environment. In some cases, urban open spaces are preservation areas for natural features, such as the Indian Run.
The zoning regulations of the Bridge Street District requires dedication of open spaces geared toward different users based on adjacent development. Open space types include smaller areas, such as pocket parks and pocket plazas, larger settings such as greens, squares, and plazas. In some instances, more significant public open spaces will be provided to serve the community. One example is the such as a Scioto riverside park between SR 161 and Emerald Parkway.
One of the central elements of the Bridge Street Corridor Vision Plan is a greenway network to connect each character neighborhood. The while smaller networks may be found throughout the District, a District wide connection is envisioned along the North and South Forks of the Indian Run to protect and preserve this exceptional natural amenity, eventually providing a dedicated pedestrian connection across the Scioto River through a signature pedestrian bridge, and extending further east until reaching the Sawmill Center Neighborhood, where it takes on a more an urban character. The greenway network will ultimately extend beyond the boundaries of the Bridge Street District to provide important pedestrian and bicycle connections to the rest of the city.
Streets as Public Realm
Unlike traditional suburban environments, where streets are merely transportation routes, the Bridge Street District calls for streets to be just as much a part of the urban environment as the buildings, open spaces, and parking areas. Creating vibrant, walkable, mixed use environments require the ability for people to walk or bike, which allows for spontaneous social encounters. So thinking of streets not just as a means to travel by car, and more as places where people are at the center of activity. To this end, streets in the Bridge Street District are intended first for people as pedestrians, and secondly as a means of travel by auto. Safety is a primary consideration, accomplished through measures such as wide sidewalks, on-street parking to buffer and define the walking spaces. Street trees and furnishings provide a comfortable pedestrian experience, and buildings frame the street to provide opportunities for strolling and window-shopping. In this way, creating exceptional streets becomes a natural extension of the open space and greenway network.