A COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
STEWARDSHIP / MAINTENANCE PLAN
Tactical Urbanism projects are meant to be adjusted in response to feedback and evaluation. The project comes in the middle of the public outreach process, not at the end of it. Quick Builds for Better Streets notes that this iterative approach typically brings challenges from two sides:
»» Other people will worry that rapid-implementation of projects with low-cost materials is an excuse for not investing in robust capital upgrades.
State and federal grants don’t often prove practical for funding pilot and interim design projects. Many of the cities highlighted in this Guide use existing planning, operational, or capital budgets to implement Tactical Urbanism projects. Many agencies also work in partnership with community or business groups (such as special assessment districts / business improvement districts) to identify a reliable funding source for project design, build-out, and stewardship. Where cash is the only answer, non-profit community groups may be able to secure additional resources through crowdfunding organizations like ioby. Local, regional, and national foundations have also been instrumental in funding many early projects.
Building a new project is politically sexier than maintaining an existing one. But, without a maintenance plan in place, a shiny new project can quickly become an eyesore, sucking away community support for long-term change. Quick Builds for Better Streets notes that while Tactical Urbanism projects can deliver benefits fast, “low-cost, flexible materials require more frequent maintenance — replacing posts, refreshing paint — so the on-going costs can add up.” There is of course a tipping point to watch for: when maintenance costs of quick build materials begin to get too high, it makes sense to look at more robust treatments, using data from the quick build project to make the case for capital funding.
As such, it is important to create a plan for marketing and outreach that clearly communicates:
MEASUREMENT + EVALUATION
When a community partner is involved in project stewardship, cities should provide a clear maintenance agreement outlining responsibilities for all parties involved. Many examples exist in the plaza and parklet programs that have proliferated across the country in the last 5 - 10 years, and the exact agreement structure appropriate for your community will depend on your program and permit process and approach to liability.
»» Not realizing the project design and materials are flexible, some people will worry the project is moving too fast, not allowing for adequate public input.
»» What need/challenge the project aims to address; »» How long a project will be in place; »» How the project will be evaluated; and »» To what degree it can be adjusted (or removed) in response to community feedback. The communications plan should be executed with support from stakeholder groups, local politicians, and nearby property owners (residents, business owners, etc.). Helpful tactics include creating an attractive logo or brand for the project, as well as a “promo kit” to outline key talking points, making it easy for partners to share information.
Based on the goals outlined at the outset, ongoing evaluation will help you track project performance. Expect that the project design might need to be tweaked once installed — with flexible materials, adjustments in the field are part of the design process! Evaluation should include qualitative and quantitative metrics, often involving surveys or observational data collection at the project site. In Planning by Doing, Gehl Architects notes that the prototyping approach allows public input to be gathered not just through argument or stated preferences, but through use of the redesigned space and demonstrated preferences. For robust evaluation efforts, partnerships with universities are often helpful.
FOLLOW-UP Shout outs matter! Your project likely benefited from support and effort from a diverse range of stakeholders. Thank them and report back with relevant data to make sure they know that their efforts made a difference!
INTRODUCTION · 19
The only materials and design guidance for Tactical Urbanist demonstration, pilot, and interim design projects. Funded by the James L. Knigh...