Friday, July 27, 2007

Civic Planning: Two Snapshots

I've run across some interesting articles this week that both have to deal with how cities are hoping to breathe new life into old areas. First is a great collection of articles from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's James Eli Shiffer about the demolition of a 116-year-old house in the Jordan neighborhood of that city; it had become blighted in the eyes of local officials, who decided that it would be best to tear it down and start again rather than trying to rehabilitate it. Here's the link to the demolition video, and be sure and visit the previous seven installments of Shiffer's series on the story of the house's beginning and how it got from there to here; it's a well-done series that totally captivated me.

In the meantime, Ocean City, New Jersey is planning the beach of the future:
Visitors will wear wristbands that automatically debit their bank accounts or credit cards to pay for beach access, food and parking. Garbage cans will e-mail cleanup crews when they're ready to be emptied.

And people won't even think about trying to sneak in: Beach checkers could scan the sands with handheld devices and instantly know who didn't pay.

This southern New Jersey city plans to deliver a variety of public services and Internet access using radio-frequency identification chips and Wi-Fi wireless technology. The $3 million project is expected to be finished by next summer.
This sounds like a cool idea, though I can imagine some people will say that it's a little too Big Brother-ish; they'll also have to find a way to deal with people who don't actually carry credit cards or have bank accounts. But one idea--having parking lots with electronic signs telling how many spaces are still available--probably can't come soon enough.

The story also notes that the same provider of the high-tech gadgetry would make wi-fi available at the beach...but if you absolutely have to access the Internet while at the beach, you may need to rethink the meaning of the word "vacation."

Public service announcement of the day: Never smash a WD-40 can with a stick. (Strong language alert, as you might imagine.)

The naked truth: Brattleboro, Vermont, a town known for its tolerance of public nudity, has reversed course and outlawed the practice. T(he final straw was an elderly man walking through the center of town wearing only a fanny pack.)

They weren't exactly modeling professional behavior: A news program showed a clip of a British runway model falling off her high heels--twice--and the anchors couldn't stop laughing.

How do I love ewe? Let me count the ways; What do you give the woman who has everything? Prince Charles recently gave his wife Camilla two sheep for her birthday.


Anonymous said...

It's about time. For years O.C. has been in the shadow of Atlantic City (that is until A.C. went to being the Las Vegas of the east coast). But once it came into its own it got really crowded and being the small town that it is was just not set up for the influx of tourists on the large level. It also sounds like they want to help preserve the environment, which is a big plus for coastal regions these days. I say big brother has already taken hold so why not let the convenience factor work to our advantage?

Anonymous said...

Hey Kev,

I just noticed you've turned anonymous comments back on. Is this to lure back the commenters who don't trust Evil Google and won't sign up with accounts for them?

I was just about to email you with a link to this story on Drudge that seems like something you'd like to know.


Kev said...

GP--I never had anonymous comments turned off in the first place, so any evilness must have been coming from Google itself and not me, LOL. Nice to hear from you here again. (And I think you still have the 'other" option of using your name without signing up.)