Though the Commercial street plan was the big news, also on Monday night Council advanced the ordinance to vacate a parcel of Trade Street right of way.
This ivy-strewn plot, overlooking the Mill Race and a bike/ped path, isolated between two legs of the Pringle Parkway, is inactive and a little desolate. Envisioned changes offer the prospects of better landscaping and modest picnicking amenities.
Earlier in the year when we learned that the City was considering the vacation, some transportation advocates questioned whether the downtown core needed more surface lots, especially if built on public land.
At the October and November Vision 2020 Bike/Ped Workgroup meetings, Mark Shipman from Saalfeld Griggs very kindly joined the group and explained their hopes to purchase the lot and to make it into a more fully landscaped area around a 21-space parking lot expansion for clients and employees.
Though some members of the Vision 2020 group were ambivalent about the project, several members argued that the space along the Mill Race and the pedestrian path was downright unattractive in places, and that improved landscaping and use of the space would help to enliven it. They noted that it was a neglected "gateway" into the downtown core. As a whole the group expressed more interest in seeing a good project move forward than in taking a position against the vacation and sale.
At his second visit, Mark offered a sneak peek at the draft plans for the lot. The purchase is not final, so these are tentative and provisional. Nevertheless, the plans offer the prospect of making the area immediately overlooking the pedestrian underpass of Pringle Parkway a more lively place. The area is currently underused, and the Vision 2020 group was united in wishing for reasons for people to use the area and for improved landscaping to attract and delight the eye.
The overall plan makes use of lots of maples and gets rid of the ivy. The plant list also features Rhododendrons, vine maples, and looks to offer a good grouping of native plants. There's also some Japanese influence.
One of the highlights is a picnic area directly overlooking the plaza between arms of Pringle Parkway. The trees on either side of the area are cherry trees, and echo, perhaps intentionally, those on the Capitol Mall.
Regardless of what one thinks of the parking lot expansion, the landscaping plan looks significantly more inviting than what's there now!