Thursday August 08, 2013
Some may say that South Burlington’s got it all: a fantastic school system, a wealth of jobs, valuable real estate, and an active community. Even so, South Burlington has one thing missing: its very own City Center. Though the entire downtown project will take years to complete, the Market Street Reconstruction Design project--the heart of the future City Center--will start to show South Burlington’s character in just a few years.
Members of the Planning Commission, Form Based Code Committee, Recreation Path Committee, and Energy Committee worked hard during a July 30 meeting, to come to final agreement on a Market Street concept design to present to the City Council on August 5.
The Market Street Reconstruction Design project was approved by last year’s Council in May 2012, and the city’s been hard at work pulling together research, public input from February community visioning workshops, expert advice from consultants, diverse city representation from committees, and budgeting for the Market Street makeover. The city’s already undergone the Environmental Assessment and received funding through two grants. The Vermont Economic Progress Council also recently approved the City Center TIF District, of which Market Street is eligible.
During a July 18 meeting, the four groups were at odds, and deliberated long and hard about a variety of topics such as Street A (now officially known as Garden Street), designing to meet the needs of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, pavement materials and their associated costs, and more.
Consultants (Dreher Designs for Form Based Code, VHB, and Whole Systems Design) and committee chairs then met again July 20 and formulated the approved concept for final presentation. Planning Commission Chair Jessica Louisos prepared an organized list of the proposed cross-sections. The cross-sections begin from East to West on Market Street:
Hinesburg Road to Potash Brook Tributary:
• Symmetrical treatment of pedestrian and bike traffic in 9 foot wide bi-directional shared use paths on each side of the road (there will be a landscape strip incorporated but the consultants will need to look into this)
• Parallel parking located only on South side of street, that side of the street will be curbed
• No parking on the North side of the street, that side will not be curbed to facilitate stormwater treatment
• the width of the two landscape strips will be determined by the consultant to best accommodate the stormwater design Continuing west, the 9 ft. shared use paths and the 11 ft. travel lane will remain the same on a bridge at the Potash Brook Tributary Crossing.
Potash Brook Tributary meets newly named Garden Street (This is the street that will connect Dorset St. to Williston Rd)
• Symmetrical cross section
• Pedestrian and bike traffic in 9 foot wide bi-directional shared use paths on each side of the road
• Parallel parking located on both sides and will be curbed
• The width of the two landscaping strips will be determined by the consultant to best accommodate the stormwater design. The landscaping is narrower than the Eastern segment to accommodate the additional parking.
The cross-section of Garden Street and Dorset Street:
• Symmetrical cross section
• 14’ shared use path will allow bikes at a slow speed. This is the complete street accommodation for bikes
• 21’ adjacent to buildings will be generally undifferentiated to allow for more space for flexible uses. The flexible space gives more room for pedestrians and bikes to maneuver
• 14’ shared use path will be smooth for bikes and ADA compliance
Within the 21’ area, 7’ will be used for amenities such as trees, streetlights, and benches. It will also have a slightly different appearance from the 14’ area since it will use permeable pavers or another stormwater mitigation procedure. The amenities selection is intended for maximum flexibility, which is the basis of the entire design.
“We want to design it with the greatest possible flexibility,” said Paul Engels, Form Based Code Committee member. “Someday, 10 years from now, 15 years from now, when there are actually restaurants and cafe tables, it will be possible to accomplish whatever we want to do with it without ripping up the road and starting all over again.”
The final section of the proposal addressed adding a festival section, which is an area appropriately designated for temporary events (i.e. farmer’s markets). It would have the same design configuration as the cross section of Garden and Dorset Street. This addition requires further financial research since it will be curbless--thus increasing the stormwater costs, maintenance, and street materials. All participants in the room seemed to be on the same page, as Louisos went through each cross section without pushback. By the meeting’s end, a myriad of topics had been discussed, one of which was distinguishing different types of cyclists and catering to their biking styles while ensuring pedestrian safety. For the more relaxed cyclist, the shape of the path shouldn’t be as linear; this will slow down the pace. The path could also have bike parking on either end, as requested by Energy Committee Chair Don Cummings. For speedier cyclists, they might request painting sharrows on the travel lanes so motorists know to share the road.
In terms of stormwater mitigation, use of permeable pavers was noted as one potential option, but another procedure known as Silva cell is another choice. This is currently being used in Burlington. Resident Sarah Dopp, though supportive of the concept, expressed concern for the elderly who may not feel safe in a dense area. As the area develops, the city will likely add more signage. The groups also discussed the speed limit and other ways to slow down traffic.
The Planning Commission, Recreation Path Committee, and Form Based Code Committee each had a quorum; the Energy Committee did not, but Cummings said there would be a meeting later that week; therefore, three committees voted individually on the concept.
For the Planning Commission, Commissioner Sophie Quest moved to accept the plan as amended--(1) bump outs for pedestrian crossings and (2) taking out the word “additional” before “costs” in the Festival section. Commissioner Barbara Benton seconded, and the vote was unanimous, 5-0, in favor.
Rec Path Committee’s Donna Leban moved to accept the proposal as amended. Michelle Connor seconded, and the vote was 5-1; Roy Neuer was opposed.
Form Based Code Committee Chair Michael Sirotkin moved to accept the report as amended. Tim Mackenzie seconded, and the vote was unanimous, 9-0, in favor. Councilor Chris Shaw also voted in favor in order to take part in the quorum.
Ilona Blanchard, the City’s Planning Director and head of the Market Street process, credits everyone involved with the concept sent to Council.
“The efforts from everyone in the community who has participated in the process since February are appreciated and that is reflected in the design,” she said. “The proposal uniquely represents South Burlington and leaves doors open for the street to evolve as the area matures.”
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent