Friday, May 15, 2015

CSS Task Force and James Street

The CSS Task Force jumped another hurdle last night.

If you are wondering the CSS Taskforce has been meeting for the last year on the redesign of the downtown Columbus Streetscape and the entire look/feel of the James Street corridor. 

We have been going over plans and suggesting things and looking at pros and cons of so many visions and I think we are maybe 70% finish??  There are little details that we are leaving for the future hoping Columbus industry will chip in such as creation of benches and bike racks and so forth but the streetlights for the entire corridor was the current big ticket item.   

There are two plans on the table and now it's up to the City Council to give a thumbs up thumbs down on one of the plans on the lighting. 

The conservative plan which I have feel is underwhelming but it saves money.  The main concentration for unique decorative lighting is the 2 blocks downtown (Ludington also has plans but that is for the future AFTER the nightmare summer of 2017). The rest of the corridor would be basically what we have now but painted black to match the downtown lights.   

The other plan which I and the Taskforce have been pushing for and Water and Light agreed to last night is much more aggressive and will REALLY be nice looking BUT, more expensive.  We only have one chance to do his every 50+ years and something no one has brought up is how the aggressive plan will show future industry and business people that are considering Columbus that  "we care".

They can either drive through town and go - "WOW - this place looks great and they are proud or their community".  OR a smart businessman that understands the world will go "WOW - this place looks great and they must be financially stable to borrow all this money". (We are). 

Since Columbus will have to bond ANYWAY for the 16/60 reconstruction, why not add a little more and make the corridor look bang for buck REALLY nice and attract business.

The plan would be the tall "standard" black poles from the Walgreen's intersection all the way to Charles Street. 

Then starting at Charles street we will have onyx colored crosswalks with white outlining all the way through town. This will tell travelers that they are entering a downtown. Then we would have the unique decorative lighting polls which are closer spaced all the way through town with some variation "in" the downtown area (electric outlets, flag holders etc.).   

In my minds eye this will be stunning.  With the lack of overhead wires, new cement pavement with the colored (not painted) crosswalks and really nice streetlights will look so inviting. Many of the older trees will be cut down by the DOT (more on this in a bit**) so when you are on top of the hill it will look a little wide open.  So the new decorative streetlights will really stand out beautifully and create a wonderful flow into town. 

**The DOT will replace each tree with a new tree (as yet to be determined) so every tree WILL be replaced but they will be smaller. 

There are a number of nice changes downtown but those are still in the works.  Trees are still on the plan downtown and don't worry, they are not oak trees.  We really do know what we are doing here. It's not a bunch of willy nilly ideas.   There are many things we wanted but the cons beat out the pros on some great ideas.

People complain that our downtown is suffering. Well, one of the things that make our downtown unique ALSO is one of the reason it suffers. Old buildings are hard to renovate and people always say "I have no idea what is down there".  WELL, that is because of the sign ordinance where we can have no back lit signs for stores.  

No real signs and no one knows you are there!  RIGHT?  Looks GREAT, bad for business. 

SO - we need to find other ways to make people stop and "look" and that is the beautify the downtown area.  

I had a friend who is a city designer from Portland OR walk the town and she commented, "why is this city not vibrant, it's fantastic".  I mentioned the signage and she stopped and said "you are absolutely correct, no one knows what is here right?"

So, trees and flower containers will catch your eyes and make you look left and right AT the buildings and at the non-backlit signs. It's like artwork, you have to study and see where your eyes travel when it looks at things and adjust everything to make your eyes look where you want them too.        
When you drive through town now you look straight ahead OR you look UP at the tops of the buildings, the 2nd floors above the signs because that is where there is less clutter. When you drive you have clutter in front of you with vehicles so to rest, your eyes go north to the blank 2nd floors. The foliage on trees will stop your eyes from going so high and push your vision back down towards the signs.  BINGO! 

Plus adding shade for walkers, diverting sound waves from the cement, add color and softness to all the brick . . . . .but I digress.  

That is my spiel for today.  Now I must workout and write a piece about disc golf for the newspaper.  Aaron Adams and I are planning on some sort of free Introduction to Disc Golf in the future at Firemans park. 

Hydro Street now has 20 (25?) discs for people to borrow if you want to try out the sport.

OH - and please pray for Jose' from Motoclassico, he was involved in a rather serious car accident last week and I believe is still in the hospital.  He wants his privacy and I respect that but his place has been closed for a while and we need him back in the community.

Get well buddy!

NOTE - I got an immediate message saying KEEP the non-backlit sign ordinance.  I am in no way saying get rid of it. Just saying one of the problems WITH it.  I don't want Columbus to be Anytown USA. 

Rod