Thursday January 22, 2015
Years from now, the existing Garden St.—situated between Healthy Living, Trader Joe’s and Pier 1 Imports—will extend to intersect with Market St. and continue on to connect to Williston Rd. via Midas Dr. How will this new route look? The answer to this is not yet known, but the design workshop held on January 15 gave the public glimpses of how it might look. A series of design alternatives were presented and feedback was invited.
The project, which also includes intersection improvements at Williston Rd. and White St. and Williston and Hinesburg Roads, is led by Stantec Consulting and assisted by ORW (a landscape design and planning firm), and Chester Engineers (formerly known as BioEngineering Group). Together, they are working to help design, engineer and permit this support street in the city’s new downtown.
The January public design workshop served as a follow-up step from the first brainstorming and walk-around workshop held in September 2014. Attendees at the September workshop—including residents, property owners, business owners, and city committee members—asked the consultants to consider the following: traffic-calming, sense of place, gathering spaces, attractive areas, pedestrian and bike-friendly spaces, connections, green spaces, and a comfortable and inviting scene. A month later, on October 14, 2014, the Planning Commission adopted the Garden St. project’s Purpose & Need statement.
In addition to the Garden Street alternatives, the consultants offered two renderings for the Garden St. entrance at Midas Dr. where there is a wider right-of-way of 100 ft., providing some additional opportunities for street design. The first option offers sidewalks, green belts, on-street parking and travel lanes on both sides. A 26 ft. stormwater treatment area would fall between the travel lanes, and would include a 10 ft. cycle track. The second alternative shows four lanes; the outer lanes are reserved for on-street parking, and there are two travel lanes in between. Green belts are situated on either side of the street. This option also includes a 10 ft. cycle track, a 26 ft. stormwater treatment, and sidewalks.
Reflection and Workshop Outcome
Cost differences, stormwater maintenance, and bike connections were some of the topics the public discussed throughout the presentation, but a major question remained unanswered: what land uses will serve this prime location in the future downtown?
The development plans for the area are unknown and the landowner will determine its uses. The market will be a key determining factor; “the market is very good right now for residential,” Project Director Ilona Blanchard said.
The proposed City Center Form Based Code, if adopted, will have standards that will need to be met, design-wise. However, Form Based Code is “silent on the [land use] issue,” as Recreation and Leisure Arts Glenn Sproul noted. Whether or not City Center Form Based Code is adopted will also help determine who builds the road: the developer or the city.
At the conclusion of the presentation, participants used colored dots to vote for their preferences; green denoted a first choice street alternative, red denoted a second choice street alternative, and blue denoted the first choice for the entry road. Written comments were also encouraged.
Alternatives 4a and 4b reeled in the most first-choice votes. Public comments noted that 4b “has the most ‘gardeny-feel’” and “good traffic calming,” and added a “suggestion: use protected bikeway for 4b, not a cycle track.” The votes were close for both entry road alternatives at Midas Dr., with the first alternative gaining slightly more votes.
The city encourages more input from the public before refining an alternative and making a recommendation to the City Council. The alternatives and presentation are available on the city’s website, www.sburl.com.
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent