Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

Farhad Atash

Abstract

This project is an urban design study that encompasses the Downtown area of Taunton, Massachusetts. The boundaries for the study area include the Mill River along the western boundary, Washington Street along the north, Pleasant Street, Leonard Street and Fruit Street along the east, and Church Green and Spring Street along the south boundary. Downtown Taunton is a very well defined and preserved city center that is centered on the Taunton Green and possesses a large number of historic structures. In recent years the downtown has suffered from increasing traffic congestion, the slow destruction of the area's historic character as modem buildings are constructed on the outskirts of the downtown and in some cases in the downtown itself, and empty storefronts due to a variety of factors. The challenge in completing this study is to develop a plan that will preserve the downtown's historic character, create a more viable business environment, and create a safer and more attractive environment for pedestrians and motorists. The study is composed of five parts. These include an introduction followed by a short history of the city and downtown area, the structure of city government and a brief profile of the city's economic and demographic makeup. Part three is an analysis of the downtown to determine assets and liabilities. Part four outlines recommendations to improve the downtown and the last part outlines an implementation strategy to improve the study area functionally and aesthetically.

In completing the study the built environment is analyzed to identify the assets and deficiencies of the built environment. In performing this analysis, techniques such as figure/ ground, lynch, and linkage analyses are being used in conjunction with windshield surveys, reviews of existing regulations and studies and interviews with city officials and business owners in the study area. This analysis is then used to develop recommendations to address aspects of the downtown such as zoning, traffic flow, parking, landscaping, street furniture and other amenities, aesthetics, facade treatments, signs and open spaces in an effort to improve the downtown. This study also takes the recommendations one step further by including an implementation strategy that identifies responsible persons, groups, or departments, possible funding sources and assigns a priority to each of the recommendations.

The analysis of the study area illustrated the strong base and potential that exists in the downtown in terms of the areas character, layout, architectural beauty, parks, and location. Many of the deficiencies identified are cosmetic in nature although some substantial changes such as traffic flow and the renovation of Court Street are needed.

The goal is to provide a built environment that is uniquely and effectively designed, that possesses it own character, is attractive to behold, and convenient and safe to frequent. This creates a sense of place and economic vitality. Downtown Taunton already possesses many of these qualities and the implementation of this plan will move the Downtown closer to fully achieving the above stated goal.

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