The Salt Creek Preserve Plan
Learning from their recent Shreveport experience, Chariot Companies, upon their review of our community’s potential opportunities, then suggested an approach not as grand in scope as their past plan. They suggested focusing instead on better connecting and improving of our targeted area’s existing natural assets thus returning to John Nolen’s original conceptual plans while also reducing the necessity for excessive capital investments of taxpayers’ funds.
We therefore intend to center our focus upon maximizing targeted existing assets within Southside Saint Petersburg to not only help to improve the community, but also create a new community asset, The Salt Creek Preserve, that ALL of its residents can be proud.
The Conceptual Origin of Our Plan
For our suggested plan, we have relied heavily upon the concepts of John Nolen who many considered as a kindred spirt whose visions of urban reform helped pioneer the planning profession. (p40 Visions of Eden) Fredrick Law Olmsted, Jr, his mentor at Harvard University’s new formed School of Landscape Architecture, introduced him to the idea that planners could unify the complex elements comprising the organic city.
John Nolen helped champion this new profession that expanded the urban vision of earlier reformers by wedding beauty to utility. He never sought to dismiss beauty from the city; instead he thought comprehensive plans following natural lines would produce a more urban system. Although his theory of planning evolved over the years, his design techniques centered upon the ideal of harmonizing natural and urban landscapes techniques. (p41 Visions of Eden)
Late November 1921, John Nolen was contracted for his planning services by the City of Saint Petersburg.
Nolen’s basic concepts for Saint Petersburg were very simple:
Urban planning should be used to protect the natural environment.
Besides satisfying the love of nature and the desire for outdoor life, a plan that more clearly echoes the landscape should set the pattern for the city’s future development.
By setting aside scenic areas unsuited for buildings–for example floodplains and steep hillsides–a community could also protect important natural resources and make the urban fabric more aesthetically pleasing.
A system of paths and parkways could connect public lands so that urban dwellers could enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature [sic] world.
After laying out the park system, lands for industry, business, and public uses would then be designated based upon their function, subsequent use, and maintenance.
Foremost among the functions of practical city planning, is to arrange so a city can live and do business there with the maximum of comfort and a minimum of cost.
Planning the different components of an urban system around natural forms would result in utility and beauty going hand in hand and seeming virtually inseparable.
American cities should follow the European practice of providing municipal improvements to benefit the entire public, not just the investors.
The Old World presented an impressive array of public buildings, city squares and plazas, playgrounds, parks, parkways, and boulevards, art museums, and theaters all available to the citizenry.
Nolen’s excursions to Europe convinced him that what he called collectivization was an indomitable historical force that had arisen in response to the urban and industrial revolutions. In modern urban society, collectivization conferred the planning powers local government needed to enhance the public life and protect the common welfare.
Finally, he believed that besides giving urban dwellers an escape from the grind and fatigue of the day’s work, a beautiful and functional public realm helped to expand civic consciousness. (p45 Visions of Eden)
What a site for city!
With the peninsula’s blend of land and water, there were few if any situations like it in the world…Waterfront, almost endless in extent and variety, lakes large and small, with unspoiled tracts of tropical jungle and miles and miles of good building land to give one the thrill of the possibilities….(p51 & 52 Visions of Eden)
Finally, Nolen also advised that the City purchase additional public lands in lieu of a proposal by Lew Brown, owner and editor of the St. Petersburg Independent, to build a giant pier.
He believed that the best investment for attracting tourists was to establish a system of public preserves, especially on the beaches. To prove his point, he included among his many slides of shoreline parks in Monte Carlo, Nice, and Santa Barbara. If St. Petersburg followed the example of these successful resort communities, he assured his listeners that the community would not need a million-dollar pier. (p 67 Visions of Eden)