Living Local Illustration
This illustration is a general city scene created by local artist, Tom Maxfield. Each topic depicted in the illustration is labeled and relates to the findings and recommendations from Easton Matters. The scene is not specifically Easton but rather a generalized city, as many of the issues identified could be applicable to other cities and towns.
In this downtown, there are many assets, such as the corner grocery (1), pocket park (2), and recycling (3), as well as areas needing improvement, such as blighted buildings (5), sidewalk repair and maintenance (18), and crosswalk maintenance (21). Central to any downtown is the interplay between pedestrians and traffic. The safety of bicyclists (8) and pedestrians (10) is improved with appropriate signage (4), street lighting (20), accessibility (15) and traffic control measures including rumble strips (6), speed limits (9), and limiting car and truck traffic (22) in popular walking areas. Improved walkability not only raises the quality of life, it improves health through the encouragement of exercise and the reduction of air pollution. Air quality is also improved with vegetation – increasing the density of street trees (19) and rooftop gardens (13) is aesthetically appealing, increases property values, and provides critical habitat for insects, birds, and other wildlife.
While most residents can appreciate the benefits of street trees, the costs associated with their upkeep are a significant negative barrier to widespread adoption by residents (17). Homeowners are responsible for having arborists prune trees and must replace sidewalks that get torn and upended by large tree roots. Planting city approved tree species ameliorates future sidewalk tree problems but sidewalk repair remains a costly challenge that reduces walkability and creates tripping hazards. Providing education and reduced cost options for sidewalk replacement can start to address this challenge.
Quality of life is also improved with an active downtown promoting businesses and street life (14) and the redevelopment and reuse (11) of blighted buildings (5) bolsters the local economy and provides opportunities for community development and connections. Alternative energy sources (12) should be considered with any new building or redevelopment, providing cost savings in addition to reducing the city’s carbon footprint.