Significance of the Albany Bulb
A dump is a place where waste resides and where unwanted things go die. It is virtually forgotten by the people who deposit materials and is only remembered when an individual must again go to the dump to dispose of additional objects. The question to ask in the context of the Albany Bulb project is when does a dump lose stigma and gain the status of a site representing sociocultural value (Mason)? In the case of the Albany Bulb, this shift began to take place when formerly homeless people began to take up residence there.
Some might wonder how it is that a landfill dump can have value. Therein lies the uniqueness of the Albany Bulb, and why it holds so much value to the people of the community and the former residents. First and foremost, the bulb is valuable because of its history. Many people place value on a site or area simply because it has been around for a long time (Mason 11). Since the creation of the neck of the bulb began in the 1940’s with the construction of Golden Gate Fields, it qualifies as a historical place (more than 50 years old), which makes it of value. Historical value is just one of the sociocultural values attached to the Albany Bulb.
Social value is one of the most important aspects concerning the bulb and the future preservation of tangible and intangible heritage surrounding this place. Randall Mason defines social value as “place attachment…social cohesion, community identity, or other feelings of affiliation that social groups (whether very small and local, or national in scale) derive from the specific heritage and environment characteristics of their ‘home’ territory.” To the former residents of the bulb, place attachment is everything. They literally built their homes on this land and lived there for decades. One can still see brick flooring, sectioned off gardens, and artifacts that remain in the places where the former bulb residents built their homes. The emotional and physical attachment that the residents felt is what makes the bulb so valuable to them and to the community members who support their right to the land.
The Albany Bulb is free to visit and needs little development to fulfill its value as a heritage place. However, the site needs to be made accessible to the people who originally used the area, as well as the park visitors and dogwalking community. In order to achieve this, the management policies need to be changed. The primary problem with the management of the site is that is was not managed at all for many years. The biggest issue would be to have a consistent management plan and implementation from the state. That being said, the state and city need to work together with the former residents, community, and other stakeholders in order to create management policies that not only reflect the values of the various stakeholders, but also respect their right to the bulb as a heritage place.