CNU 22 (Congress for the New Urbanism Conference)

Lisa Austin & Stephen Sonnenberg

The Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) advocates “traditional neighborhood design.” At this twenty-second annual conference (CMU 22), Civitas learned more about urban waterfront development and form-based zoning – ideas that could benefit Erie. Regarding the waterfront: a century ago, John Nolen, (one of the great-grandfathers of CNU) commented that Erie’s “great harbor is naturally the finest for commerce on the Great Lakes.” But, water transportation has long been outpaced by railroads, interstates, and airports.


What good is public transit?

Lisa Austin

During his 2013 visit to Erie, University of Buffalo, SUNY professor Dr. Daniel B. Hess praised transit for offering “access to education, employment, healthcare, shopping, recreation, entertainment, and socialization.” Hess said transit promotes neighborhood reinvestment and can help reduce “sprawl, pollution, and oil dependence.”

Herman James House1 1400071061

Heman Janes House

Lisa Austin & Stephen Sonnenberg

Preservation Erie’s Melinda Myers says that of the thousands of buildings in Erie, “we have only three clusters” of National Register listed districts. But, because we don’t have any preservation ordinances or a demolition review board, no building is protected. City Hall must issue a demolition permit to any property owner willing to pay the fee.


Why Save the Villa Chapel?

Lisa Austin, Stephen Sonnenberg & Laurel Swartz

Have you ever seen a dog chained outside in the winter? Erie has ordinances against such cruelty; those concerned can call Animal Enforcement at 868.6924. Unfortunately, Erie has no laws protecting buildings. Though experts praise the Villa Chapel’s ornate woodwork and stained glass, the modestly-sized chapel, built in 1925, is unheated, leaking, and is being slowly “demolished by neglect.”


Erie’s Bayfront Bluff Park has Potential

Lisa Austin, Michael Beightol & Stephen Sonnenberg

In 2010, Erie’s Bayfront bluff was wildly overgrown with invasive species and littered with garbage. While teenagers made their way through rough terrain to Presque Isle Bay, folks along the top of the bluff could rarely glimpse the water. Enter the Erie Community Foundation.

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