Public prefers more contemporary Broadway option

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Go with option two -- except for the lighting.

Cape Girardeau's Historic Preservation Commission chairman Scott House mostly agreed with the public at a special meeting Wednesday morning about which option is best for improvements to Broadway from Pacific to Water streets. That would be option two, the one that would eliminate parking on the north side of Broadway to create a "pedestrian promenade."

The commission's only official recommendation by unanimous vote was to detour from option two in favor of the more traditional lighting in option one's lanternlike street lighting. Option two calls for more metallic, modern lighting that the commission felt would conflict with the street's historic feel.

"Personally, I think having those wider sidewalks on one side would help the corridor more than the other [option]," House said. "But that's outside our baileywick as a commission. We really are just endorsing the idea of more traditional lighting. The modern lighting looks out of place with those brick buildings."

And House's personal preference of option two, which would create a 15-foot-wide sidewalk to encourage outdoor cafes and seating areas, appears to mirror the public's wishes.

City officials have been gathering input from the public since they unveiled both options at a July 12 open house. City engineer Kelly Green said most of the commenters so far favor the "more contemporary" option two.

"Surprisingly, we've even heard from businesses on the south side of the street saying they want the wider sidewalk," she said.

Design one is the more traditional option and would include some of the same amenities such as shade trees, special pavement, bicycle racks and pedestrian areas. In option one, on-street parking would not be affected and pedestrians would be allotted eight to 10 feet of sidewalk space on both sides of the street.

Work on the project is expected to start in October and be done around the same time next year, Green said.

The overall $3.5 million project is being funded from the voter-approved Transportation Trust Fund. About $1 million for the second phase will then be reimbursed to the fund from revenue generated by Isle of Capri's operation.

Option two does away with parking, which is a concern, Green said. But city officials are working with property owners toward a private/public partnership that would allow residents to have access to off-street parking behind the buildings, making Broadway accessible through the alleyways.

"We're not wanting to buy the lots for public use, but we are trying to come to some agreement so the public could use them," she said.

Pedestrians welcome

The commission and a few residents in attendance at the meeting found much that they liked about the project, which includes street resurfacing, sidewalk replacement and gutter improvements. They especially liked phase two of the project, the $1 million portion to make Broadway more pedestrian-friendly, slow down traffic and help draw people to the downtown.

House, for example, liked that the fact that the trees would line the streets, which would hearken back to the city's history.

"If you go back in time and look at Broadway 100 years ago, you see a lot of trees," House said. "I especially like that."

A few members of the community in attendance at the city hall meeting expressed support for the project, but had concerns about how the city would pay to maintain it once it's completed.

"If you can't afford to take care of them, don't put them there," council member Debra Tracy said.

But Green assured them that no one wants the improvements to be neglected and that they are still looking at options to pay for maintenance. She declined to elaborate.

Safety was another issue that was raised by residents, but Green said the consultants have looked closely at turning radiuses and site distances and deemed the project safe.

One thing that could detract from the overall aesthetics are Ameren Missouri's power lines that are strung down Broadway. But the city is working with the power company to either move those lines underground or to move them away from Broadway, Green said.

City officials have said that they hope the project spurs property owners to make upgrades to their own buildings. House said that the corridor project should do that.

"They can't say, 'If the city doesn't care how Broadway looks, why should I?' he said.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

401 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO

Broadway and Pacific Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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