The Downtown Design Review Committee met in an open house forum on Tuesday Aug. 16 at the Town of Strathmore office. The meeting was held to determine public interest and desired focus for prioritizing projects in downtown Strathmore.
The committee provided “downtown concept” schematics with different ideas, including views of Second and Third Avenues, widened sidewalks, one-way streets, street trees, urban designs, bump-outs and pedestrian crossings.
Glenn Freeland, chairman of the Downtown Design Review Committee, said public interest of the various ideas will be measured but, “unofficially, the one-way aspect seems to be the one that has the most traction.”
Freeland said angle parking would be a little bit safer because traffic isn’t coming from both ways.
The committee is also looking at high-density residential in sixplexes, eightplexes, condos and residential-above-businesses to build the downtown population. The subject of the public wanting ‘walkability’ by reducing the amount of vehicles has been heard various times.
“We want to do some type of revitalization changes in the downtown to attract more people, more businesses and different businesses,” noted Freeland. “When we did the surveys, a lot of the response we were getting was beautification, clean-up, trees and repairs.”
The cost of design projects will have to be taken into consideration, and Freeland said the town will have to weigh the profitability of projects and perhaps do a little bit at a time.
He also said the downtown design project is a slow process that requires a long-term vision.
Freeland is hopeful the community is ready to embrace this type of project.
“We are having input from the community which we’ve never seen before,” he said.
Linda Nelson, deputy CAO for the Downtown Design Review Committee, said there are many things to consider in the likelihood of a design project forging ahead.
“Apart from community and stakeholder support, it depends on funding, how much money we have in our capital budget for this type of project and where it fits on the order of priority,” she noted.
As for the likelihood of town council approving any projects, Nelson said, “Community support goes a long way in making projects happen. So if there was overwhelming community support for this project, then the likelihood of it going ahead is quite great.”
In the meantime, the committee has been busy working on small projects. For example, it has installed patios with signature red furniture in different downtown locations.
The committee will have another open house in September and after that it will collect all information and provide recommendations to town council at the fall budget meeting and the mayor and town council will vote on these recommendations.