Streetscape consultants plan revitalized downtown
By Brandon Gee (Contact)- Steamboat Pilot & Today Local Newspaper
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Yampa Street could become a festival hub, Lincoln Avenue could have wider, plaza-like sidewalks, Oak Street could get greener and side streets could be revitalized under recommendations consultants are considering.
Kristin Cypher of Britina Design Group presented a range of possibilities in a presentation Thursday at the Steamboat Springs Chamber Economic Development Council’s 2008 Economic Summit. Britina is studying downtown streetscapes in Steamboat Springs.
“You have the ability with your downtown streets to have a different experience on each street,” Cypher said.
After a series of public meetings last year, Britina’s study looking at a revitalization of streetscapes was put on hold while a separate firm conducted a traffic analysis to make sure Britina’s Downtown Streetscape Improvement Plan — a $439,000 project — would fit needed pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle improvements. Now that the traffic analysis is complete, development of the streetscapes plan will continue.
Cypher said that at public meetings last year, residents overwhelmingly said they don’t want to see typical mountain resort commercialization in Old Town Steamboat.
“It’s a rich place from a historic perspective,” Cypher said.
In an exercise where residents identified their favorite downtown locations, Cypher said those places were almost invariably green — unless it was a downtown business owner marking their own business.
Cypher said more emphasis is needed on key downtown locations such as the Routt County Courthouse lawn. She also said Steamboat needs gateway elements that make a strong statement to motorists that they’ve arrived in downtown. Cypher said sidewalk bulb-outs at intersections would make for easier crossings and the widening of sidewalks in places could create linear plazas for people to gather. On-street parking would have to be eliminated in these locations.
“When you’re designing Main Street, you’re making a statement of your values as a community,” Cypher said.
Cypher also suggested design elements that would celebrate downtown connections to the Yampa River and Howelsen Hill.
Yampa Street is envisioned in the plan as a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly area, conducive for on-street festivals. Cypher said it could make sense to move festivals currently held on Lincoln Avenue to Yampa Street to eliminate the need to close down Steamboat’s main thoroughfare for events.
“Festival, natural and artistic is really where we are going with Yampa Street,” Cypher said.
Cypher described Yampa Street as underutilized and unorganized. She said design elements should be used to make the street more permeable, which also would invigorate Old Town’s side streets.
“Right now, the side streets are about dead,” Cypher said.
Oak Street presents the biggest challenge for consultants.
“Bless its heart, Oak,” Cypher said. “Ugh, what a mess.”
Cypher’s suggestions for Oak Street include making it as green as possible with trees and the daylighting of creeks, punctuated by mid-block gathering places. The residential and family elements of Oak Street should be emphasized, Cypher said, to make it clear that this is where downtown comes to an end.
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