Tuesday, February 17, 2015

More on the Proposed Goodwill in West Salem; NEN talks Biking and Walking

Because of the holiday, the West Salem Neighborhood Association meeting was canceled yesterday, but the prospect of a new Goodwill store at the corner of Edgewater and Wallace would surely have been a topic of conversation.

The immediate area is hemmed in by urban highway and ramp spaghetti, and it has languished for some time.

Goodwill site today - corner of Edgewater and Wallace
On the aerial you can see industry, parking lot, highway, and low-density nothingness.

Nevertheless, along Edgewater there is a remnant "main street" from the days when West Salem was its own municipality. (Here are two photos of the corner from the 1940s.) So despite the flat-out awfulness of Wallace, there's lots of potential for reinvestment and redevelopment here.

A large Goodwill thrift store could be an important ingredient, a semi-anchor if not outright anchor use. (Images from presentation to West Salem NA.)

Proposed site plan
Like a lot of recent development around here, the proposed store is turned 90 degrees from the street, so the entry faces the parking lot and a side wall is mostly flush with the sidewalk.

Second and Wallace detail - the eastern driveway on 2nd
may conflict with the underpass concept
First Street, hardly more than a graveled alley at the moment, would be closed as would the stub of Van Street, and it looks like a new street, "Melinda" would be created. Second Street along the RR right-of-way would be opened and improved. The eastern driveway off of Second Street would appear to coincide with the ramp decline for a proposed underpass, and so that part of the design does not look compatible. All the driveways off Wallace would be closed, and access would be off of Second or Edgewater.

Edgewater detail - note jog in sidewalk to left of building
In this detail you can see how the building is set back five feet or so with the "bark mulch setback", and the sidewalk has to jog a little to connect with the front of the next building.

Along Wallace two new retail/office buildings are proposed. With different footprints they look to replace (no remodel) the two existing buildings.

Current view of Edgewater and Wallace

Proposed new corner commercial space
The curved facade at the corner looks nice, but I have mixed feelings about it: On the one hand Wallace is terrible for walking and that's a nice, pedestrian-scaled greeting at what is an undeniable "gateway"; but on the other hand, maybe Wallace here is so terrible, such a car canyon, that even with lots of lipstick, there won't be meaningful walking here. I feel like maybe we should just pretend Wallace doesn't exist and invest all the "pedestrian-friendly" energy in making sure the Edgewater side is as attractive and inviting as possible. "Pick your winners," they say, and edge conditions on Wallace are losers no matter how you slice it.

Edgewater Action Plan (2010): Make Edgewater nice!
In this light, maybe the building in the northeast corner at Second and Wallace should be relocated to Edgewater to fill in the gap that currently exists and is a parking lot. Put the parking along Wallace and be sure to front Edgewater and Second with attractive building facades. If visibility on Wallace is not sufficient, use signage rather than buildings.

The site plan still feels too much like a mall, like a suburban drive-to destination on a stroad and not enough like main street in-fill for a revitalized Edgewater.

There don't seem to be permit applications on file with the City, so this remains a concept plan in flux. One event that does appear to have a date is the proposed street vacation, and that is tentatively scheduled for Council on March 23rd.

Have you seen other information, know more about the project, or have other thoughts?

Bike Boulevards and Walking Safety at NEN

Also, Northeast Neighbors will hear a presentation on Bike Boulevards tonight.

At the last meeting there was also a lot of talk about walking safety.

NEN discussion of walking safety
The liaison officer discussed the current environment for enforcement of the crosswalk laws, and highlighted what is a kind of double-bind in them: A person walking must step into the roadway in order to demonstrate intent to cross. Only then are car drivers required to yield. This means that effectively a person on foot might feel they need to "endanger" themselves in order to trigger a lawful crossing action.

There was also more talk about the importance of safe and comfortable crossings on Market Street now that bus service on D Street will be discontinued.

There is an effort to raise funds for a memorial bench for the Crosslands, who were struck and while walking on Market Street and died later from the resulting injuries.

More on walking safety
From summary notes it is not possible to know the tone of conversation and all, but you can see what looks like a focus on the traffic cone theory of walking. The chief problem is not defined as car speed and inhospitable roadways, but is defined as a failure by people on foot to be "proactive" and "defensive." It is also regrettably true that because our roadways are terrible for non-auto users, people running, skating, and biking use the sidewalks at night also, and create additional conflicts with people walking at slower paces.

NEN meets tonight, Tuesday the 17th, at 6:30pm in the Salem First Church of the Nazarene, 1550 Market Street NE.  

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