Periodicals boxes just first step of Streetscape Master Plan journey
During the Aug. 21 public meeting about street amenities, Trustees Jeanne Likins and Roy Bieber, along with German Village Business Community Co-Chairman Greg Gamier, post their thoughts on each of the nine concepts presented by the Streetscape Committee.
As you read in this newspaper last week, the German Village Society Streetscape Committee has identified its next project, and is seeking grant funding to bring it to fruition.
The project has created a lot of great discussion in the neighborhood.
Streetscape Committee members have been building on the suggestions outlined by the 2010 Third Street Streetscape Master Plan.
It was agreed upon that while our long-term vision for Third Street will take time to implement, there are specific elements of the plan that we as a community can begin to develop.
The primary goals of the committee were to first look at developing a long-term vision for the implementation of future streetscape amenities and then, secondly, to select, design and install one of these amenities.
The list of future streetscape amenities includes the following items: planters, newspaper racks, fences, bike racks, benches, waste receptacles, street signs, historical markers and kiosks.
The committee, whose chairman is Tim Bibler, took feedback from the public Aug. 21. It has been receiving more feedback on our website ever since.
The committee is fortunate to have among its volunteer members Rob Hilbert, a lecturer on landscape architecture at OSU's Knowlton School of Architecture. Rob is helping to facilitate the committee's design discussions.
The first element the committee wants to tackle is a proposal for periodicals racks. There are four groups of racks and boxes along Third Street.
The project intends to camouflage them because they have long been a point of complaint among residents and business owners alike.
The committee members said they felt there was sufficient, longstanding public outcry to tackle this first. As much as it might make sense to remove the racks, we're told they represent the First Amendment rights of the publisher and therefore must stay in place.
The committee showed nine options, gathered public comment, then narrowed it down to three top choices that will subsequently be presented to the German Village Commission and the German Village Society Board of Trustees for conceptual review.
The top three might be described as a sculpture concept, a living wall and a portable (though secured) planter or fence concept.
The short, end pieces of any of the concepts would have an historic sign element to inform visitors and residents about the Village. You can see drawings at www.germanvillage.com.
Comments to our site since the meeting have covered a wide range of suggestions, as well as support for the final concepts. I wanted to broadly address some of what's online.
One group of comments relates to priority -- why spend on this cosmetic change when we have bigger needs along Third Street, such as leveling sidewalks or slowing traffic.
The reason Streetscape is focusing on amenities instead of big, structural changes is because this is the NEXT phase for Third Street.
Earlier this summer, the Society applied for Urban Infrastructure Recovery Funds (UIRF) from the city to move forward our vision for Third Street.
Included in that project are : replacing and restoring limestone curbs, which allows a number of safety improvements including proper drainage and sidewalk repair; adding pedestrian lighting; cleaning up utility lines and poles; consolidating signs to cut down on driver distractions, as well as restoring the historic look of sign posts.
While we await word on funding for that big-picture project that would require city funding, Streetscape has begun to think about the smaller pieces of the puzzle. So we haven't turned our back on the big stuff in favor of these amenities.
And we aren't proposing to spend money on newspaper racks that would be better spent on cleaning up utility lines.
As taxpayers, the city is obligated to pay for things such as safety and roadway improvements. We need to continue to ask them to dedicate those dollars in the Village, and that is part of the UIRF process.
A separate pot of dollars, likely from fundraising and sponsorships or grants, would pay for amenities.
I am again so proud to be part of a neighborhood so wholly engaged in a process like this. It is to our credit that we are thinking, creating and debating together.
The more voices represented in the process, the more likely we are to create a truly timeless set of guidelines to protect our historic district.
So I invite you to our website to read more and to continue the conversation.
German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column to the ThisWeek German Village Gazette.