Easy On The Eyes

Volunteer Group To Study Options For Downtown Aesthetics

The Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission is working on downtown aesthetics by coordinating the look of benches, garbage cans, bike racks, trees and other items to have a visually pleasing streetscape design. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

In order for there to be a dynamic Jamestown, businesses and organizations needs to be on the same page when it comes to downtown aesthetics.

That was the focus of the discussion this week by the Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission, which is a group of volunteers who meet at least once a month to study and discuss various methods of improving life in the community. The commission was created to continuously consider, develop and make recommendations for strategic initiatives to the Jamestown City Council and other organizations within the city.

The commission discussed sidewalk styles, trees, planters, bike racks, trash cans and the upcoming streetscape projects being funded by state Downtown Revitalization Initiative money.

“We want everyone on the same plan so we are not all over the map,” said Kathleen Eads, Reg Lenna Center for the Arts executive director and commission co-chairwoman.

Bill Rice, city principal planner, said the streetscape design is what blends all of downtown together.

He said, once they receive state approval and the funding, they will be starting the DRI streetscape pilot projects by first hiring a consultant. He added that they will use the streetscape projects as a way of demonstrating how to create a more inviting, walkable downtown that will set the stage for future investment. At least one of the streetscape projects will be happening along Cherry Street. Also, there will be public input sessions during the streetscape project development.

Streetscapes are the visual elements of a street, including the road, adjoining buildings, sidewalks, street furniture, trees and open spaces that combine to form the street’s character.

“We want to create a standard for all to follow,” said Greg Rabb, council president and co-chairman of the commission.

Rice and Jeff Lehman, city public works director, said they will be able to start establishing streetscape guidelines for all downtown organizations and businesses to follow once they start working on the DRI pilot projects. In the meantime, Lehman said they are still advising local groups on what they should be thinking about when it comes to downtown aesthetics.

Rice said along with having all garbage cans, benches and bike racks coordinated, he said lighting is also important to downtown aesthetics so people feel invited into local businesses and organizations. He said people involved in the downtown need to consider what they are doing with aesthetics during all seasons and during both the day and night times.

“The materials are very important,” Rice said.

Dan Stone, city arborist, provided some information about downtown trees. He said it is important to plant trees downtown that can survive the pollution, debris and road salt during the wintertime. He said a honey locust is a good downtown tree. He said on the west side they have more flowering trees like the Japanese lilac. He added that recently city officials have been able to plant cherry trees on Cherry Street.

The discussion also included what to do with Washington Street. The traffic on Washington Street sometimes creates an imaginary border between the east and west side of the street. City officials want to calm the traffic on Washington Street in order to make crossing it safer and easier for pedestrians, especially with the arrival of the National Comedy Center, which is scheduled to open during the spring of 2018 on the west corner of Washington and Second streets.

Lehman said earlier this year Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, Vince DeJoy, city development director, and himself met with state Department of Transportation officials to start discussing ways of calming the traffic on Washington Street. He said a lot needs to be done to make the street safer and easier to cross. He added that it will take time to make the necessary changes and they won’t overnight. Lehman said state officials were receptive to what city officials had to say.