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SCAD students cast designing eye on city

POSTED: November 14, 2011 6:56 p.m.

Springfield residents got a look at several ideas for the future of the city, thanks to the minds of Savannah College and Art Design graduate students.

The students from the graduate architecture studio, in five teams, showed off their visions for downtown Springfield and for the city as a whole Monday afternoon at Springfield City Hall.

“For the last nine weeks, we’ve been in Springfield, looking at the city and getting some exciting proposals for development,” said Dr. Hsu-Jen Huang, professor of architecture at SCAD.

The teams provided different scenarios for the city, from entryways into downtown to making Springfield more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. Other concepts included incorporating unused space alongside the railroad track into a park area and constructing nature trails into and through thewetlands areas that surround the city.

“We want to make it a more walkable city,” said Mark Pariani, one of the grad students.

They also tried to find ways to slow traffic down, so visitors and others could look around at Springfield instead of zooming along the streets.

“It’s kind of ironic. Some of the things we’ve been working on they pointed out,” said City Manager Brett Bennett.

Students also looked at ways of incorporating more park space, either through pocket parks or finger parks, into the city, and how to connect the city together. Ideas included a bed and breakfast along the Savannah River where guests would go either hiking or kayaking along the Ebenezer Creek.

“I like the signage, because a lot of small towns you go into, you can’t find what you’re looking for,” said city council member Gary Weitman. “I would love to see it. I wish we had the money to do some of these projects.”

Other ideas centered around taking the city’s history with the railroad and building around that, with a station along Madison Avenue, just east of the tracks.

Bennett discussed having SCAD students and professors involved in Springfield planning with Erin Rahn from the Effingham Industrial Development Authority. Teams from SCAD presented concepts on future uses of the city hall complex a year and a half ago.

Rahn, who earned her master’s from SCAD, said slowing down the traffic and creating a new entrance into the city stood out to her.

“I think that could really help out,” she said.

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