by Holley Owings, PLA, ASLA
ASLA South Carolina Chapter Trustee
Nancy Summerville sent the board of Trustees an email last week stating ASLA is terminating the Chinatown Green Street project.
Nancy’s email stated that, “During the [ASLA] Executive Committee’s conference call on Wednesday, the committee made the decision to terminate the Chinatown Green Street project. The committee reviewed all of the issues concerning the project carefully. The review began at the January meeting of the committee and included both consultation with legal counsel and discussions with District agencies to determine if another entity could take on the construction phase of the project. Of primary consideration to the Executive Committee was concern for the potential liability that could accrue to ASLA during the construction phase of the project, as well as the financial risk to the Society in the event that an unanticipated condition that increased costs was discovered during construction.”
The Board was disappointed to hear this news as we were all excited about this project, which would serve as a model of green infrastructure in the urban core of DC’s downtown, but we understand the concerns and liability associated with this endeavor.
The committees main concern was cost increases during construction, including those from the discovery of unknown conditions that could arise with a streetscape project in a dense and older urban environment.
The funding ASLA received from the District Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE)—$78,000- will have to be returned. The DOEE has been notified of the termination of this project by the committee and refunding this money is underway. The other donations to the project were used for the conceptual design phase work, which ASLA did complete with a landscape architecture firm (Design Workshop). ASLA was never tied to the completion of the project with these donations although this was the hope of the society, staff and committee members. Design had progressed to 30% completion, the design assessments provided the committee with more information on costs, stakeholder interests/concerns that ultimately lead to this conclusion of terminating the project.
I do not believe discussions regarding this topic are over with the board. I would expect this issue to be discussed further at our upcoming Board of Trustees meeting being held this May in Washington, DC. I will share updates on the topic with our membership and welcome any comments and concerns as I prepare for the upcoming board meeting.
I am honored to be representing our chapter for the next three years. Please reach out to me anytime with any questions, concerns or requests firstname.lastname@example.org. I looking forward to seeing you all soon at upcoming chapter events.
-Holley Owings, PLA, ASLA