Street amenities are publicly available resources, physical or biological, that have an aesthetic, functional, and/or ecological value (i.e. street trees, benches, traffic calming measures and community gardens). Healthy Neighborhoods (HN) is an organization working to improve the quality of life for residents of downtown Lewiston, Maine, USA through community engagement in increasing the number of street amenities and improving the local housing stock. With their work, HN hopes to encourage more people to get outside, improving health outcomes, and to foster greater cross-cultural community building and an enhanced sense of place. These goals of HN create a value system of which they plan to create a model corridor (a street of one or two blocks in length that demonstrates the values of HN) as a stimulus for increased equitable revitalization of this area with street amenities, improvements to housing, and development of vacant lots.
This project created an ArcGIS inventory of the street amenities that exist in a section of downtown Lewiston as outlined by HN. From this inventory, a scoring index was created as a tool to compare streets by their amenities and other factors. A brief assessment of vacant lots was conducted to evaluate the potential for future development by HN. A promotional brochure for HN that included maps was created. After creation of the ArcGIS maps, it was found that trees greatly outnumbered the other various amenities that were collected and assessed. A significant variation in sidewalk smoothness was discovered, with vacant lots more commonly found in places where the sidewalk was bumpy, unleveled, or had multiple flaws. Community gardens and open access green spaces have a non-uniform distribution within the neighborhood and the amount of each was limited. High amenity density by block was found where the sidewalk was smoother, although there were outliers. The highest model corridor block score was a 2.7 (with a maximum of 4 for a score) with the lowest score being a 0.4, which shows that no block is perfect in its current condition. The distribution of the composite scores was rather uniform, but it was noted that blocks with similar scores have different amenities and characteristics. The index demonstrates that there are multiple paths to obtaining a higher model corridor score. Vacant lots were assessed for potential development and the top three lots for future development, based on population density, distance from open access green space, and unit price per acre were: 111 Pine Street, 114 Bartlett Street, and 94 Howe Street.
Lewiston has immense potential for development and community engagement in this field, and this study has outlined visually where resources can be most effectively used. For future projects, it is suggested that Healthy Neighborhoods continues with their plan of engaging the neighborhood in their work (possibly using the brochure created), complete a more thorough evaluation of vacant lots and analyze more innovative possibilities for redevelopment, and to consider the impact of adding small commercial space into the neighborhood.
Griffin, Dacota; Tulip, Joe; and Morasch, Noah, "An Inventory and Assessment of Street Amenities and Vacant Lots in Downtown Lewiston, Maine: Defining Potential to Create a Healthier Neighborhood" (2017). Community Engaged Research Reports. 42.