Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Queens, New York, residents are redesigning Landing Lights Park--but don't expect to see paper diagrams of the competing proposals. Officials on the local community board are going online with an interactive, virtual-reality system to solicit designs that could come from Queens or anywhere in the world. They then hope to get locals to pick their favorite after "touring" the three-dimensional computer models.
The seven-and-a-half acre park, which is adjacent to LaGuardia Airport, currently is little more than a field, but designers will have to cope with a couple of challenges: A series of streets intersect the land, and residents are not just interested in having a nice park, but also want to reduce the noise and air pollution from the airport.
Thomas Lowenhaupt, who chairs the Queens Community Board 3 Technology Advisory Committee, says the redesign is allowing the community board to test the use of virtual reality applications--in this case, a program called Second Life--something Lowenhaupt would like to pursue more extensively in the future. "Instead of putting a flat piece of paper in front of us, we're going to say, 'Give it to us in Second Life or something equivalent,'" he says. "'Don't just give us paper.'"