On May 12th, Lawrence practicum students from the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning held the final public meeting of the semester, entitled “Taking Back Lawrence: Transforming and Cleaning the Canals and Alleyways.” Drawing on extensive interviews and fieldwork, students presented their findings and recommendations on the city’s neglected public spaces and the problem of illegal trash dumping in the city.
As the students explained in their presentation, “Taking Back Lawrence” will mean different things for the different stakeholders:
• For the mayor, it will mean prioritizing alleyway and canal revitalization and implementing dumping prevention strategies.
• For city department heads, it will mean defining departments’ roles in enforcing dumping ordinances.
• For community organizations, it will mean assisting residents with alley and canal transformation.
• For mill owners, it will mean engaging Enel and other stakeholders around canal revitalization.
• For residents it will mean working with community organizations and other stakeholders to hold the City and Enel accountable for alleyway and canal revitalization.
Following the students’ presentation, Mayor Lantigua offered his thanks to the group and affirmed the importance of cleaning the city. He discussed his plan to launch a hotline for residents to report illegal dumping and noted that his conversations with Enel thus far have been positive. He also mentioned the possible creation of an Alleyways Committee to engage residents whose property abuts alleyways and to formally bring together all those currently working on alleyway revitalization.
Students are currently wrapping up their final report which soon will be delivered to the mayor and made available online.
Video of student reflections on their work this semester are available online.