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July 2007
Volume 3, Number 2
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BeaconWalkway
Entrance and Walkway to Beacon Station
Courtesy of MTA

New York—The City of Beacon Embraces Transit-Oriented Development

Once known for its hat-making, brick and carton factories, Beacon, a city located 60 miles north of New York City on the east side of the Hudson River, is becoming a model for transit-oriented brownfields redevelopment. Beacon’s economic redevelopment strategy entails a unique synergy of an arts revival with effective multimodal transportation.

Over the past few years, Beacon’s unused and abandoned factories have been converted into loft apartments, new shops have opened on Main Street and DIA: Beacon, a museum of modern art that opened in 2003 now welcomes 70,000 visitors annually. Key to the revival of this city of 14,000 residents has been investments in transportation: the redevelopment of its commuter rail station and the launch of a new ferry service. As the third most northern stop on MTA Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line, Beacon for years was unable to attract residents and visitors until Metro-North and the city in 2004 completed a $20 million project that modernized the rail station and added parking. Serving more than 2,000 rail customers a day, the new station boasts beautifully landscaped walkways and drop off points, well-lit stairs, and road improvements.

In addition, a ferry service connecting Newburgh and other west-of-Hudson  towns to the Beacon train station now operates on weekdays, providing a quick trip for commuters traveling from west of the Hudson into New York City and easing congestion on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. Other multi-modal transportation improvements are underway. The seasonal weekend trolley, sponsored by the Dutchess County Division of Mass Transit, resumed this spring, connecting the train station to the DIA: Beacon and the city’s Main Street, and further supporting economic revitalization and alleviating congestion on city streets. The service will continue through the end of October. In addition, city officials and Metro-North have sponsored a pilot car-sharing program using hybrid vehicles. Located at the station, the Zipcar can be used by visitors to reach locations throughout Beacon and by residents who only occasionally need a vehicle. See the May 2006 issue of the newsletter for more about car-sharing.

Looking to the future, a three-story parking deck has been proposed that would be built into a nearby hillside. Future development will focus on creating even stronger ties between the bustling Main Street area and the riverfront where the train station is located. As Beacon City Administrator Joseph Braun recently said “The station is a welcoming gateway to the city for travelers that also brightens the daily lives of residents who commute.”


DVRPC Plans for Philadelphia TOD

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) continues to advocate and plan for transit-oriented development in the nine-county metropolitan Philadelphia region. Recent SEPTA station-area plans have been developed for regional rail stations in Lansdale, Thorndale, North Wales, Warminster, and Wawa in the Philadelphia suburbs, and Broad Street Line subway stations at Girard Avenue and Ellsworth-Federal in the city of Philadelphia. Those station plans are contained within three DVRPC studies: “Implementing TOD”, “Developing Around Transit”, and the soon-to-be-released “Transitioning to TOD”. Each study includes recommendations covering areas such as zoning, land use, comprehensive plans, access, and development opportunities. DVRPC will also soon publish a TOD summary report evaluating the status of plans, financing, and proposed and completed projects in the Philadelphia region. For more information on TOD in the Delaware Valley, visit http://www.dvrpc.org/planning/community/tod.htm


 

NorthWalesStation
North Wales Station
Courtesy of DVRPC

Vision Long Island Launches Smart Growth Agenda

Vision Long Island, a Smart Growth planning organization based in Northport, NY, celebrated its 10th anniversary in April by unveiling a 10-point “Smart Growth Agenda” that, among its recommendations, calls upon the New York State DOT and the MTA to become more involved in TOD strategies. Issues highlighted in the agenda include housing affordability, sustainable development, and codes and regulations that encourage mixed-use development.

During a day-long work session in Farmingdale, elected officials, civic leaders and developers were presented with goals and benchmarks for public sector, private sector and community action.  At the work session, John Thomas of the U.S. EPA’s Smart Growth Network, presented the principal concepts and benefits of transit-oriented development. These recommendations were based on over 200 prior presentations by Smart Growth speakers and over 1,000 meetings held across Long Island on land use, transportation and related issues. “We have had 10 years of Smart Growth planning. We now need the next 10 years to be focused on implementation,” stated Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island. The full implementation of this initiative is expected to revitalize over 50 Long Island downtowns, save thousands of acres of open space, and produce thousands of units of affordable housing. See map below.

More information on Vision Long Island activities can be found at http://www.visionlongisland.org

VisionLongIsland

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