Thursday March 14, 2013
Anticipation as to what Market Street, one of the focal points of City Center, could be has been building for some time. The excitement has been fostered by a series of public workshops, which have served to bring a variety of community members together in an interactive setting to gather feedback around streetscape identity, landscaping, and details such as sidewalk width. At the third of these meetings, facilitated by Project Director Ilona Blanchard, there was a solid turnout of form-based code committee members, City Councilors, and residents.
Ms. Blanchard stressed that what was being presented and discussed did not represent the final design; this was merely a concept of a cross-section and an illustration of what Market Street could look like after incorporating public feedback. Blanchard and her team gathered the comments from previous workshops and looked at them from a design and engineering perspective. Balancing needs was of paramount importance, including facilitating future development, fostering sociability, developing an identity, parking, non-automotive traffic, and pedestrian safety. Blanchard provided slides of photos from Burlington and other cities to help in visualizing a 10-foot vs. a 15-foot sidewalk, and defined “shy zones”, which are private property on the street. Most streets are made up of a shy zone, a thru zone, and a landscape/street furniture zone, Blanchard explained. After presenting these slides, everyone in the room had the same language with which to evaluate the concept street, and the grand reveal took place.
The audience was led down Market Street along a map which zoomed in to identify specific features. The beginning of the street was a cycle track. “Communities that have invested in this type of infrastructure have seen very positive results” Blanchard said. An accommodation for cyclists was very important to most respondents during the feedback process. Ample greenery and parks were also shown. The map envisioned future road connections and mid-block cross walks. Some discussion arose over a four-way stop instead of a roundabout. The transportation engineer explained that although roundabouts are more energy efficient, they change the pedestrian dynamics along the street.
As one moved along the map and entered the center, a bridge where the tributary and road intersect was presented as a focal point, representing a transition area from the retail/commercial portion of the street to the more residential portion. After the bridge, the cycle track transitions into a bicycle path and a parking lane is lost to accommodate a turn lane onto Hinesburg Road.
Most individuals who spoke out were pleased with how the public comments made their way into the concept. Blanchard would like to have a concept design for the City Council to consider on April 1; in mid-April materials will be available to assist with identity questions, such as what tree types should be featured in the streetscape. You can keep up-to-date on the process and impart your thoughts at www.sbpathtosustainability.com.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent