Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Wasted Resources

I'm feeling simultaneously virtuous and suckered. What can induce this state of mind? Why, doing yardwork on a beautiful holiday afternoon, of course. I mowed the lawn today. If ever there was a human activity more wasteful of both human resources and petroleum resources than keeping a lawn, I'd like to know what it is. Next year shall be the year of the edible landscape, and I don't mean for sheep and goats. (I'd have a goat, but city ordinances forbid me to keep even a chicken or two on my quarter acre, so I'm pretty sure goats are ruled out, too.)

Here are two Main Street sites that illustrate another way to waste precious real estate. Neither of these buildings seems to want to be on Main Street, as demonstrated by the vast expanses of asphalt that they have placed between themselves and the sidewalk. Both of them would be more at home in a strip mall. Fortunately for the rest of Main Street, these buildings are almost directly across the street from each other, and so can keep each other company.

The supermarket is within walking distance of several multiple housing units, both rentals and condos, and yet the parking lot was clearly designed for far more automobiles than I have ever seen there. Maybe this is the only way that the big chain supermarkets know how to build, regardless of the location. They could have used some advice from Gristedes in New York City or Caraluzzi's in Bethel, and located it with an entrance, or at least a walkway, from the sidewalk, so as to be more welcoming to pedestrians.

The smaller building, by contrast, seems to have too few parking spaces for its purposes. I wish the building had been sited so that the entrance would be closer to the sidewalk, and with the parking spaces at the rear of the building, as many Main Street commercial buildings have done.


Mikabelle said...

Ah the expansive Foodmart parking lot. I noticed the same thing - nearly always empty in comparison to Stop & Shop, and Foodmart over on North St. Apparently most people arrive on foot? They cater a lot to Hispanic folks as you can see by the variety of produce they carry - some quite mysterious. Also the giant bags of rice (can pedestrians manage those 20 lb sacks?). Friends of mine used to live in Harrington Square across the street and would stroll over to pick up a few things. However they usually needed their car to haul groceries for a family of 5 from there, other markets, and of course from the suburban behemoth Walmart. Danbury is an odd city in that it's an awkward mix of urban and suburban. I think suburban is the dominant force with the exception of a concentrated but smallish downtown. Not too many people can manage around Danbury without a car so it's not likely to become like New York City where people are relieved not to own a car and lots of places deliver.

Sharon said...

Mikabelle, welcome!

This actually became my new favorite supermarket when I found out that they carried Texas okra pickles.

I'll be the first to admit that it's not easy to conduct all the necessary errands of daily life in Danbury without a car, but I hope to see that improve. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of those nifty two-wheeled shopping carts in the coming years. Meanwhile, I certainly don't begrudge people using cars to do the weekly grocery shopping, but I'd like to see an environment that is still friendly to pedestrians, too. Supermarket parking lots can be dangerous places just walking from your car to the entrance, never mind walking from the sidewalk to the entrance. I'd like to see some sort of protected walkway, for starters.

cooper said...

Nice, interesting blog, sis. So pleased to see you're writing again! Texas okra pickles, now there's an acquired taste, which I've yet to acquire.

Sharon said...

Thanks, cooper, glad you like it...I'm having a lot of fun with it.