Jim Patterson, Cheryl Quinn and Alicia Dawson of White Oak Studio Landscape Architecture firm of Houston visited Center again Monday, June 11 to present the final Master Plan for the Streetscape Enhancement Project to the Center City Council.
A committee made up of Center square merchants, Chamber of Commerce, City of Center and Shelby County officials met with Jim Patterson and Cheryl Quinn for Workshop 1 – Analysis and Concepts on March 6, to gain understanding on what would be the focus of the plan.
At Workshop 2 on April 25, the Preliminary Master Plan was presented and input by the committee members was garnered by the White Oak crew. The comments and suggestions were noted, and the plan went back to Houston for fine tuning.
Patterson presented the final Master Plan in three parts: Storefront Design Options, Streetscape Master Plan and Courthouse Grounds.
The storefront design options would be voluntary enhancements to private storefronts, if owners wish to utilize them. The goals would be several: to beautify the downtown square; complement public streetscape enhancements; encourage individuality while retaining overall harmony; improve safety with enhanced lighting; enhance safety with enhanced lighting; enhance visibility and identification of downtown properties; improve long-term property value; reflect civic pride; and conserve Center’s architectural heritage.
The Streetscape Master Plan includes pavement color and texture changes, which provide: visual clues for traffic calming, beautification, a unifying element and unique identity. Bollards (short, wide poles at the intersection corners) serve to define the edge and add to the streetscape character. At each intersection, “bumpouts” would be added to define the drive land, protect parked cars and provide visual clues to drivers of potential pedestrian interaction.
Midblock crosswalks on all four blocks, marked by special paving would increase pedestrian safety by providing clearly designated street crossing and would connect storefronts to the courthouse square.
The courthouse grounds themselves would be enhanced by formal, ceremonial approaches to each of the building’s four entries. Planting on the courthouse grounds would be kept simple and low maintenance with trees carefully planted to frame views, add shade and provide context for architecture. Large lawn areas would be left clear for public gathering and events.
A monuments plaza would be created behind the Old Records Building to move the scattered monuments to one place. The Veterans Memorial on the north side of the 1885 Courthouse (where the flags and old clock are) would remain where it is – only the smaller monuments would be placed by the Records Building, as well as any future monuments. The donor paver bricks could be moved to this area, too, where they would show to greater advantage. The monuments plaza would be part of the future history center and museum.
There are many useful and practical ideas contained within the Streetscape Master Plan that would beautify, enhance and unify the downtown area. This could increase tourism and therefore, business.